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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1851, by 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. 


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P E E F A C E. 

It may very naturally be asked, Why, if the lives 
of the persons whose memoirs are contained in the 
following pages possessed an interest for the com- 
munity, the silence of nearly forty years should 
have remained undisturbed upon their memory ? On 
the other hand, it may be asked, Why are the seals 
now broken, and the veil of domestic privacy with- 
drawn which concealed features composed in the 
unchangeable beauty of death ? The history of the 
book is simply this. About fourteen months ago, I 
was requested, by a gentleman well known to the 
literary and religious public, Rev. Dr. Sprague of 
Albany, to furnish some recollections of my father 
and brother for a work which he is preparing for 
the press, — ' Annals of the American Pulpit, or 
Biographical Notices of Eminent American Clergy- 
men of various Denominations.' 

In recurring for that purpose to letters and papers 
which had fallen into my possession as the hearts 


that dictated and the hands that wrote became cold 
in death, but which a sentiment, understood by every 
heart of sensibility, had suffered to remain undis- 
turbed for so many years, it seemed to me, as I 
read them anew, that they contained much which 
should not be willingly suffered to die, — that they 
might touch other hearts, — and that, as the blessed 
dews and rain do not return merely to the fountains 
and rivers from which they are drawn, but are 
diffused in showers which revive distant places, so 
these letters also, intended only for private instruc- 
tion, might counsel some other son, or encourage 
the heart of some other parent. 

In preparing the memoir of my brother, I have 
been able — through the excellent arrangement of 
his papers at the time of his death, and the almost 
reverential care of his friend, Mr. George Ticknor, 
to preserve even the smallest fragment from his 
pen — to present of him nearly a complete autobio- 
graphy. The thread with which I have connected 
the memorials from his own pen may seem, to those 
who have never heard of him, heavy and overcharged 
with eulogy, while, to the few surviving friends who 
enjoyed his intimacy, the portrait I have endeavored 
to fill up will appear, if not incorrect in its outline, 
cold and faint in its coloring. 

The delicacy and reserve which I have felt in 
endeavoring to present to the public, in their true 


light, the characters of relatives so near in blood 
and so precious to memory, has been in some degree 
lessened by the years that have removed their be- 
loved forms from my sight ; but, as I have receded 
from them in time, I have been able to approach 
nearer to them in the true appreciation of their 
characters. As we look back upon the long past, 
the venerated forms of early life rise up again, and 
through the suffering of our own souls we come to 
an understanding of theirs, as the sun at last shines 
through the tears of a cloudy day, and, as it ap- 
proaches its setting, reveals those who began life 
with us in all the rainbow beauty of the morning 


E.B. L. 

MAY 15, 1849. 






Ancestry of Dr. Joseph Buckminster in England and in 
America 1 


Joseph Buckminster. — Childhood. — Education and Residence, 
as Tutor, at Yale College. — Form, of Religious Faith. . . 10 


Mr. Buckminster's Settlement in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. 

— Reminiscences of the Piscataqua Association of Ministers. 

— Their Meetings. — Missionary Magazine. — Prayer-book 

for the Use of Families 28 


Portsmouth. — Peculiarity in its Early Settlement and its So- 
ciety. —Its Wealth. — Personal Recollections. — Mrs. Tap- 
pan, Dr. Buckminster's Sister 37 

Marriage of Mr. Buckminster. — Character and Anecdotes of 


Dr. Stevens. — Death of Mrs. Buckminster. — Depression of 
Spirits. — Second Marriage. — Joys and Trials 55 


Early Development of the Character of his Son Joseph. — Let- 
ters between the Father and the Son. — Exeter Aca'demy. . 71 


Joseph enters College. — His Character as a Student. — Letters 
from his Father 87 


Joseph S. Buckminster. — Assistant in Exeter Academy. — 
Theological Studies. — Method of Study. — Letters. ... 113 


J. S. Buckminster. — Residence at Waltham. — Theological 
Studies. — Correspondence with his Father upon his Reli- 
gious Opinions, and upon his Entrance on the Ministry. — 
Purpose of Relinquishing his chosen Profession 131 


Character of Dr. Buckminster's Preaching. — Extracts from his 
Sermons. — Letters 156 


Joseph S. Buckminster. — His Theological Studies. — Corres- 
pondence. — His Invitation to Brattle Street Church. — His 
Ordination 189 


Extracts from Sermons. — Illness. — Music. — Letters. . . . 204 


Ordination of a Classmate. — Monthly Anthology. — Anthology 
Club. — Journal of Studies. — Letters 226 


Journal of J. S. Buckminster in London. — Journal and Letters 
upon the Continent 261 


Mr. Buckminster's Return to Boston. — Increased Ardor in his 
Studies. — Friendship and Attachment to Mr. Walter. — 
Grief at his Death 302 


J. S. Buckminster. — His Interest in Periodical Literature. — 
And in Sacred Literature. — Beginning of Unitarian Contro- 
versy. — Extracts from Sermons 320 


Ordination of Mr. Parker, at Portsmouth. — Dr. Buckminster's 
Friendship for him. — J. S. Buckminster's Housekeeping with 
his Sister in Boston. — Letters from Drs. Sprague, Pierce, and 
Abbot. — Dr. Worcester 359 

Sermon on the Death of Governor Sullivan. — Letter on 


Duelling. — Bible Sooiety. — Address before the Society of 

<i>. B. K. — The Athenaeum 386 


Correspondence between Dr. Buckminster and his Daughter. — 
Remarks upon the Correspondence 419 


Death of Rev. Mr. Emerson. — Appointment of J. S. Buckmin- 
ster as Lecturer upon the Dexter Foundation in Harvard 
College. — Study of German. — Intellectual Character and 
Habits. — Last Illness 441 


Domestic Events relating to Dr. Buckminster. — Journey to 
Connecticut. — Cheerfulness and Uninterrupted Health for 
four Years. — His last Illness, and Death. — Interment. — 
Monument. — Funeral Services at Portsmouth and Boston. — 
Reinterment and Monument of J. S. Buckminster. . . . 465 

Apr-ENDix 485 






The biographies of the father and son, embraced 
in the following pages, may properly be introduced 
by some brief account of the ancestry from which 
they sprung. 

The name, Buckminster, as it is written by the last 
generations of the family, is supposed, by the historian 
of the town of Pramingham, Massachusetts, to be an 
alteration from Buckmaster, which he conjectures was 
the original came, as it appears so written in the Col- 
ony records of Massachusetts, and upon deeds of the 
seventeenth century. This is a mistake. The name of 
1 Adam Buckminister,' and ' Roberti filii sui,' appears 
as far back as A. D. 1216 in the English records in 
Westminster, printed by order of King William the 
Fourth, and the name is repeated with the same 
spelling through all the generations of the family, till 
it became altered in this country by the careless 
spelling of the records. This will not appear sur- 
prising to persons acquainted with the records, where 
are found names long honored and revered by their 



descendants, altered, and even travestied in the most 
unaccountable manner. 

The first emigrant of the name of Buckminster to 
this country is said to have come from Wales, — I 
know not from what authority or tradition, but it 
seems unlikely ; for I find that in 1 578, the twenty- 
first year of the reign of Elizabeth, a coat of arms 
was granted to William Buckminster, son and heir of 
Richard Buckminster, eldest son of John Buckminster 
of Peterborough, and to all the posterity of John 
Buckminster for ever. 

The eldest ancestor of whom we have any knowl- 
edge is Thomas Buckminster, the author of an 
Almanac for the year 1599, printed in London. A 
copy of this Almanac has been preserved in the 
family to the present time. Watts, in his Bibliotheca 
Britannica, mentions 'Thomas Buckminster, Minister, 
His Right Christian Calendar and Spiritual Prognos- 
ticator for 1583 and 1584.' These are doubtless 
numbers of the same series with the Almanac just 
spoken of, and now before me. It contains a calendar, 
printed in red and black ink, of the days of the month, 
the signs of the zodiac, the changes of the moon, etc. 
It is a pleasant, although perhaps a fanciful thought, 
that Shakspeare himself may have resorted to one of 
Thomas Buckminster's Almanacs to see if the full 
moon would serve for the Midsummer Night's Dream, 
written and performed between 1590 and J 600. 

I here copy as specimens two stanzas, which may 
be regarded as of a fair average with the wisdom and 
poetry both, contained in the copy preserved in the 
family. The calendar of each month is preceded by 
a stanza. 


The stanza for January is as follows : — 

' If thou be sick and health would have, 
The council of the learned crave ; 
If thou have health, to keep thee so 
Flee idleness, as deadly foe.' 

In June he says : — 

' Drink, new or sweet, taste not at all, 
For thereby grows no danger small ; 
And to thyself such pastime take 
As may, in God, thee merry make.' 

Thomas, the son or grandson of the almanac-maker, 
came to Boston in 1640. He was made a 'freeman,' 
that is, in the old meaning of the term, he joined the 
communion of a church, and received a grant of land 
valued at £10, from the General Court. He was the 
owner of a farm at Muddy River, now Brookline, 
where he died, September 20, 1656. His will, dated- 
only a few days before his death, is recorded in the 
Suffolk probate-office. The will, also, of his eldest 
son, Lawrence, who returned to England, unmarried, 
is recorded in the same office. 

If we may infer any thing from the selection of 
Thomas Buckminster's farm in Brookline, he must 
have had an eye for picturesque beauty. His dwelling 
stood at the foot of wooded heights, covered with a 
dense shrubbery and fringed all up the rocky sides 
with delicate pensile branches and hanging vines. A 
rapid, sparkling brook, descending from these rocky 
heights, ran past his door, spreading out and winding 
in the meadows in front. Jamaica Lake, a quarter of 
a mile distant, embosomed in beautiful undulations of 
hill and valley, slept tranquilly in full sight of the 


house. Oar forefathers, probably, if they had any, 
love, bad little time to cultivate a taste for beautiful 
scenery. With the axe on their shoulders, or their 
hands upon the plough, they conquered the rough 
and sterile soil, securing those absolute necessaries of 
life, food and fuel, before they could please the eye, 
or indulge the love of natural beauty. Burns, upon 
the peaceful hills of Scotland, may have walked 
behind his plough in glory and in joy ; but upon the 
New England hills, at that early time, the ploughman 
must have cast many an anxious look around, lest in 
the dense forest, closely pressing upon the field, should 
lurk the beast of prey, or the more dangerous Indian. 
Thomas Buckminster's son Joseph, the first of the 
family with that Christian name in this country, seems 
to have succeeded his father, and to have lived upon 
the farm in Brookline. His son Joseph, grandson of 
Thomas, was a man whose foot was capable of making 
a mark upon the hard New England soil. His name 
is first mentioned in 1693, when he became a pioneer 
in settling the town of Framingham, and acted an 
important part in the establishment and administration 
of the affairs of the place. He was then about twenty- 
seven years old, with great physical powers, and great 
resolution and ardor of character. He married at an 
early age Martha Sharp, the daughter of John Sharp, 
of Muddy River. After his removal to Framingham, 
he held successively all the offices of honor and trust 
in the gift of his fellow-townsmen. He was a select- 
man for seventeen years, and a representative to the 
General Court of Massachusetts Colony for twelve 
years. He held several military commissions; was 
the commander of a company of grenadiers in Sir 


Charles Hobbie's regiment in the expedition to Port 
Royal, and subsequently had the command of a 
regiment of Colonial militia, which gave him the 
title of Colonel. He settled and improved the famous 
Brinley farm of 860 acres, of which 400 acres were 
under cultivation. He sold it a few years before his 
death to Francis Brinley, Esq., for £8,600 in bills of 
public credit, and seems to have been involved in 
endless lawsuits. His name is perpetually found 
in the various transactions of the town ; at one time, 
in a deed of gift of half an acre of ground adjoining 
the meeting-house to accommodate the work-house 
and school-house ; at another time, he is allowed to 
make, and to keep in order, a highway from his house 
to the meeting-house, and in consideration thereof is 
exempted from labor, on the other highways for seven 

At the building of the first meeting-house in Fram- 
ingham, a vote was passed, that Joseph Buckminster 
should have liberty to set up a pew, upon which side 
of the great doors he pleased. As, at the same meet- 
ing, a committee was chosen to seat the meeting- 
house, — that is, as in early times was the custom, to 
assign seats according to age, dignity, or the rate 
paid, — we must infer that the pew was an honorable 
distinction, or a reward for services. 

At the building of the second meeting-house, some 
circumstances on record betray the character of the 
man, and may have been the origin of an expression 
the writer used to hear in childhood, of the ' Buck- 
minster spunk.' The phrase, and the quality perhaps, 
have since died out of the family. It appears that he 
obstinately opposed for five years the placing of the 


meeting-house upon a piece of land to which he 
asserted, or had a just claim, for he dug a cellar and 
drew timber upon it for his own use ; and when 
timber for the meeting-house was drawn upon the 
same land, he did not hesitate to remove it. After a 
contest of five years, he seems to have acted gener- 
ously, or it may be only justly; the records merely 
say, that Colonel Buckminster made a proposal to 
the town to make good all the timber that he had 
drawn off. He would not be compelled, but volun- 
teered this act. 

Tradition represents him as a large, athletic, and 
remarkably strong man, capable of lifting great 
weights and of carrying heavy burdens. It is said, 
but it seems impossible, that once, upon a bet, he 
carried sixteen bushels of salt upon his shoulders. 
He is said to have been a stern and austere man, and 
to have ruled among the first settlers of Framingham 
with no gentle hand ; but there is no tradition that 
he was ever accused of injustice, or of reaping where 
he had not sown. He was the owner of several 
slaves ; a negro woman, named Nanny, was valued 
at his death at £80. 

His son Joseph, or, as he was called, the second 
Colonel, was a very different man, much beloved and 
respected, and filling various offices of trust and honor 
in the gift of his fellow-citizens. For twenty-eight 
years he was selectman, and held the office of town- 
clerk more than thirty years. He had the honor of 
representing the town of Framingham at the General 
Court for thirty years, and died at the age of eighty- 
four, after a long life of public service and personal 


There is a circumstance connected with his history 
that will be interesting to the friends of African 
emancipation. He was the owner of several slaves, 
in one of whom he placed implicit confidence, relying 
upon him in all delicate and confidential business, 
and placing in his fidelity, as he said, more unwaver- 
ing faith than in that of any white man. This negro, 
Prince Young, was distinguished for his talents and 
his moral qualities, his honesty, temperance, and pru- 
dence, and was left with the sole care of a great 
estate, and the management of a large farm, while 
his master was absent at the General Court. 

William Buckminster, the son of the above, and 
the third who held the title of Colonel, was a dis- 
tinguished man in his day. . At the age of twenty-one 
he removed to Barre, and devoted himself to the 
business of agriculture. He immediately gained the 
confidence and respect of the people. His integrity 
made him friends, and his superior understanding 
gave importance and consideration to his political 
sentiments. In the great struggle between this and 
the mother country, he took a very warm and active 
part. Decisive in his measures, open and undisguised 
in his friendships, he enjoyed to an unusual degree 
the confidence of his fellow-citizens. He signalized 
himself by his activity in providing arms and ammu- 
nition. The minute-men raised in Barre were com- 
manded by him, and immediately after the first blood 
was shed at Lexington, he marched his company to 
Cambridge. He was distinguished for prudence and 
bravery at the battle of Bunker Hill ; he was on the 
field the whole day, and as the Americans were re- 
treating he received a ball in the ri^ht shoulder, that 


came out at the back. Although thus dangerously 
wounded, he continued in the army till the close of 
the war, because of the influence he obtained over 
the minds of the people. It was said of him, that 
those who knew him best praised him most, for his 
inflexible integrity and spotless character. 

With him the military spirit ceased, at least in this 
branch of the family. His eldest brother, son of the 
second Colonel Buckminster, was born March, 1720. 
He was the fourth Joseph in direct succession, and 
the first that entered the ministry. He was educated 
at Harvard College, and received its honors in 1739. 
He was ordained at Rutland, Massachusetts, 1742, 
and continued ' the faithful and laborious pastor ' of 
that church more than fifty years, highly respected 
for his usefulness, and deeply beloved and esteemed 
by his parish. Mr. Buckminster may be considered 
in some degree a heretic of his day, as he entered 
into controversy in support of a mitigated form of 
Calvinism. He did not believe that the elect were 
elected to grace before the foundations of the world, 
but were elected from a fallen state, and that election 
was a remedy for an existing evil. It was not a part 
of God's original purpose, but such were elected as 
most diligently used the means of grace. The de- 
crees have no direct positive influence upon men. 
They are determined by motives, but act freely and 
voluntarily. Such was his theology. 

These controversies were printed, but it must de- 
mand a great love of ancestral blood and an enormous 
amount of patience even to read now what at that 
and at remoter times was the very milk upon which 
Christian babes were fed. Mr. Buckminster is called, 


in the theological tracts of the time, a Sublapsarian. 
It is a comfort to think that the thing itself is not so 
harsh as its name, for it seems an effort to soften the 
stern features of Calvinism, and to mingle a little 
human clay in the iron and granite of its image. 




We come now to the first immediate subject of 
these memoirs. Joseph, the son of the Rev. Joseph 
Buckminster, minister of Rutland, was the fourth 
among nine children. The eldest, a son, lived only 
a few months ; then followed two daughters. Joseph 
was born October 3d, 1751, receiving the ancestral 
name, which his elder brother who died had also 
borne during the few months of his life. His mother 
was Lucy Williams, daughter of the Rev. William 
Williams, of Weston, a direct descendant, in the fourth 
generation, from Robert Williams, of Roxbnry, the 
common ancestor of the wide family of that name 
spread through the United States. Her grandfather, 
Rev. William Williams, of Hatfield, was called a 
man of great abilities. Her own mother was a daugh- 
ter of Solomon Stoddard, "that great divine, who was 
considered by marijF as the light of the New England 
churches, as John Calvin was of the Reformation." 

Rev. Dr. Stiles says, in reference to him, 'I have 
read all -Mr. Solomon Stoddard's writings, but have 
never been able to see in them that strength of genius 
some have attributed to him. Mr. Williams of Hat- 
field, his son-in-law, I believe to have been the greater 


man.' President Edwards calls Mr. Williams a man 
of 'unnatural abilities,' and goes on to say, — 'His 
subjects were always weighty, and his manner of 
teaching peculiarly happy; showing the strength and 
accuracy of his judgment, and ever breathing forth 
the spirit of piety and the deepest sense on his heart 
of the things he delivered.' Jonathan Edwards was 
first-cousin to Mr. Buckminster's mother. 

Colonel William Williams, one of the first settlers 
of Pittsfield. was the maternal uncle of the subject 
of this memoir. He preserved the venerable elm-tree 
that has so long adorned the centre of that town. It 
stood upon land of which he was the owner, and one 
of his workmen had raised the axe to cut it down, 
when he ordered him to 'spare that ancient tree.' Its 
enormous growth must have been the slow work of 
many centuries. It measures twenty-three feet in 
circumference only a short distance from the ground, 
and rises seventy-three feet before it puts out a single 

Of the mother of Dr. Buckminster a dim and indis- 
tinct image remains in the childish memory of the 
writer. After the death of her husband, she came to 
spend the last years of her life near her son, in Ports- 
mouth. She was tall, with rather masculine features, 
and in the mind of the writer she has left the impres- 
sion of a stern and rather austere nature. It is 
remembered that she sat constantly in her easy-chair, 
usually with a book in her hand, and that no noise 
was permitted in her presence. Her son, whatever 
were his avocations, never omitted visiting her a 
single day, and the grandchildren were often sent to 
receive her blessing. 


Descended thus, on the mother's side, from a family 
of distinguished intellect and piety, the eldest son 
was from his birth intended for the ministry. The 
early years of his life were, however, spent in those 
hardy labors of the farm, in open country air, that 
are so essential to invigorate the frame and strengthen 
the constitution. The healthful breezes of the hills of 
Rutland must have done much towards expanding his 
vigorous frame, which was remarkable for its sym- 
metrical development, for the ease and elasticity of 
all its motions, for gracefulness and freedom of action, 
which continued to distinguish him through life. He 
used to delight to tell his children of the country 
sports of his boyhood. Once, in pursuit of squirrels, 
he was lost in the forest, and, with another boy, slept, 
like the babes in the wood, upon heaped-up fallen 
leaves. The alarmed and anxious friends were all 
night in pursuit, and the boys were near perishing 
from fatigue and hunger. 

Another accident that happened in his boyhood, 
which his children often heard him refer to, made a 
deep impression upon his mind. He was ten years 
old, and after the labors of the hay-field, full of 
boyish spirits, he was jumping upon the top of the 
loaded wain, as it was returning to the hay-loft. A 
false step threw him to the ground, and the wheels 
of the heavily laden cart passed directly over his 
neck ! He held a pitchfork in his hand, and it so 
happened that the handle of the pitchfork fell in 
exactly the position to support the wheel as it turned 
over him. This almost miraculous preservation made 
a deep impression upon his young mind, and he asked 
himself with deep earnestness for what he had been 


saved, — thus held back from the very threshold of 
death. He said to his children, that, long after, he 
never closed his eyes to sleep without a vivid remem- 
brance of the emotion of that agitating moment, and 
that, in after life, it was never forgotten. 

His heart was very tender in his boyhood. An 
anecdote once related to his children made a strong 
impression upon the writer, as a proof of that tender- 
ness and susceptibility of feeling which enabled him 
through life to enter intimately into the feelings of 
the afflicted, and to be so truly a comforter to his 
people in his ministry. His elder sister married while 
he was yet a boy, and removed with her husband to 
the then remote region of Ohio. This separation, 
the first breach in the family circle, was so deeply felt 
by the young Joseph, that he spent the whole day 
after her departure alone in the hay-loft, weeping 
bitter tears, unable to eat, and refusing to be comforted. 

I am not acquainted with the place or the manner 
in which Dr. Buckminster's preparatory studies were 
completed, but at the age of fifteen he entered Yale 
College. It was probably through the influence of 
his mother's relatives, the Williamses and Stoddards, 
that he received his education at New Haven, rather 
than at Cambridge, as his father had been a son of 
Harvard. He was not repelled from Harvard College 
because it was of a more liberal theology ; for even 
had it been so, his father, as we have seen, was not 
one of the strictest among Calvinists. His maternal 
uncle, the Rev. Elisha Williams, had been Rector of 
Yale College not many years previous, and this cir- 
cumstance may have decided for him. 

A contemporary testifies, that, while an undergrad- 



uate. he was distinguished for the sweetness of his 
disposition, for his exemplary moral deportment, and 
as one of the best linguists in his class. He was a 
very accomplished Latin scholar, and continued 
through life to write in that language almost as 
readily as in English. Many of his familiar letters 
to his son are written in Latin, His love for classical 
studies was hardly impaired amid the arduous duties 
of his profession. Although devoted by inclination 
and duty to the studies connected with his sacred 
office, and engaged heart and soul by preference for 
the Bible, yet Yirgil and Cicero continued to lie upon 
his study table. He was in the habit of addressing 
familiar questions and simple household orders to his 
daughters in Latin, and then of explaining them or 
giving them the dictionary to find them out ; thus a 
few Latin sentences became quite familiar to them. 

In 1770, Joseph Buckminster received the honors of 
the bachelor's degree, and was one of the three most 
distinguished and accomplished scholars who were 
chosen upon the Berkeley foundation to continue 
three years longer at the College, pursuing such 
studies as they might select for themselves, all 
expenses being paid by the fund provided for that 
purpose. ' That he devoted himself to theological 
studies,' says a son of Yale, 'must have been from a 
high spirituality of feeling, as the religious state of 
the College was very low at that period.' There 
were also prizes provided by the Berkeleian fund for 
distinction in certain studies. ' The Dictionary of 
Arts and Sciences,' in four quarto volumes, was the 
prize adjudged to him, and always remained upon the 
shelves of his library. 


The advantages of these three years of added study 
must have been in proportion to the merit by which 
they were obtained ; and among the names of those 
who succeeded to this distinction, we find some of 
the most honored of our country. Silas Deane, the 
Hon. Abraham Hillhouse, and Stephen Mitchell pre- 
ceded him, and among his contemporaries were Presi- 
dent Dwight and the Hon. John Davenport. Both 
of the last were his warm personal friends, whose 
attachment continued through life. Both visited the 
humble parsonage of their fellow-student within the 
memory of the writer ; the one accompanied by his 
son, the other by his wife. To her inexperience of 
life the one appeared to possess the lofty politeness, 
the priestly dignity, of the Bishop of London, as 
made known by the pen of Hannah More ; the other 
resembled the only hero of romance then familiar to 
her imagination, Sir Charles Grandison. 

The epic bards of our country, Barlow, Trumbull, 
and Dwight, were also fellow-students and personal 
friends of Mr. Buckminster. Numerous copies of the 
epics* of these poets, the Vision of Columbus and the 
Conquest of Canaan, were arranged upon the study 
shelves of their friend, probably subscription copies, 
remaining from year to year in undisturbed quiet. If 
a child, prompted by curiosity, opened a volume, the 
unattractive page was restored again to its repose, 
there to gather the dust of age ; but there is no old 
mortality that can ever consecrate and make venerable 
poetry that has in itself so little merit. 

The three years of literary instruction for which 
Dr. Buckminster was indebted to Bishop Berkeley 
demand a tribute of gratitude from one so nearly 


connected with him. According to every account 
that has come down to us, Bishop Berkeley was one 
of the noblest and purest of the benefactors of the 
human race. Pope's ascription, ' To Berkeley every 
virtue under heaven,' however comprehensive, is too 
general to give a true idea of the refined spirituality 
of his mind, the benignity and disinterested gene- 
rosity of his disposition. 

It is one of the most singular coincidences of 
literary history that Bishop Berkeley should have 
derived a large part of his fortune from Mrs. Van- 
homrigh, the celebrated Vanessa so long attached to 
Dean Swift. She removed to Ireland for the purpose 
of enjoying the society of the person for whom she 
cherished the most singular attachment. But finding 
herself totally neglected, and suspecting Swift's con- 
nection with Stella, she was so wounded that she 
altered her intention of making him her heir, and 
left the whole of her property to two gentlemen, one 
of whom was Bishop Berkeley, then nearly a total 
stranger to her. Thus from the caprice of a woman 
resulted a singular good fortune to many of the 'other 
sex, even more remotely strangers to Vanessa than 
was the original legatee. 

Bishop Berkeley was most unostentatious in his 
benevolence, doing good by stealth, and blushing to 
find it fame. His first object, that to which he 
devoted all his energies, was the promotion of edu- 
cation in the New World. For this purpose, he 
resigned the Deanery of Deny, worth £1100 a year, 
to dedicate the remainder of his life, with only a 
salary of a hundred pounds yearly, to the instruction 
of the youth of America. Such was the eloquence 


of this enthusiast, that he persuaded three of the fel- 
lows of Trinity College to embark their fortunes with 
him, and to give up all their prospects of preferment 
at home for the small salary of £40 on this side of 
the Atlantic. He intended to establish a college in 
what were called the Summer Isles,* Bermuda being 
the island chosen for its location. 

The project of a college in Bermuda failed, but 
Bishop Berkeley, as is well known, came to Newport 
in Rhode Island, where he purchased a country seat 
and cultivated a farm, waiting for the fulfilment of 
his contracts about the college. These failing, he 
returned, with deep disappointment to England, and 
sent from thence a deed of his valuable farm in Rhode 
Island to Yale College, the rents of which were appro- 
priated to the support and instruction of the three best 
scholars in Greek and Latin, selected from each class 
as it graduated, who must, as a condition of the 
bounty, reside at the College at least nine months 
of the three successive years. 

At the close of the three years of study, Mr. Buck- 
minster was appointed tutor, and held the office four 
years. Dr. Dwight was fellow-tutor with him for 
nearly the whole of the period. The same contem- 
porary referred to above says, — ' He was much es- 
teemed by his brothers in office, and was universally 
beloved and respected by the young gentlemen who 
had the happiness to be under his instruction.' The 
year before his connection with the College, as tutor, 
ceased, in consequence of the agitated state of the 
country and the dangers to which the seaports were 

# So called in the Life of Berkeley. 


subjected, the institution was disbanded, and the stu- 
dents scattered in various places, each class under the 
direction of its respective tutor. 

I regret that so few anecdotes of this interesting 
period of his life remain in my memory. He was not 
in the habit of talking much of his early life, and I 
had not reached that period when we begin to look 
back, and when, the present not sufficing for the 
wants of the soul, we wish to learn from the experi- 
ences and the trials of those who have gone before us. 

Thus eleven years of a life not very long in its 
whole duration were spent in New Haven. An attach- 
ment to Alma Mater, to the town of New Haven, and 
to Connecticut itself, was formed, that lasted through 
life. He was often heard to say, — 'My place was 
there. I always wished that State to be my home, 
but Providence has directed my line of duty far away 
from the place of my first affections. ' The limited 
salary of a clergyman, and the large family, more 
than usually thrown upon the father's care, rarely 
allowed him the recreation of a journey. Four years 
before his death, when the failing health of one of 
his children seemed to impose it as a duty, a journey 
to New Haven was a bright interval between the 
cares of life, a season of uninterrupted cheerfulness. 
The companion of that journey had till then never 
known of what cheerfulness, even gayety, her father's 
spirits were susceptible, as when expanding at the 
meeting of old friends, renewing youthful reminis- 
cences with classmates, recalling half-forgotten college 
anecdotes, and reviving all those care-free associations 
that make of college days an oasis left in the far-off 
pathway of life. 


Mr. Buckminster's whole residence at New Haven 
was during the Presidency of Dr. Daggett. The 
country was agitated by the intense excitement of 
the war of the revolution, and the College partook of 
the distress that marked the beginning and progress of 
that fearful conflict ; circumstancess ill adapted to the 
quiet of literary pursuits. Yet there was no period in 
the history of the College more fruitful in eminent 
men in every department of knowledge, and the classes 
of 1777 and 1778 were much larger than those of the 
previous years, and contained a large proportion of 
men distinguished in the councils of the nation and 
famous in the annals of science. 

During the time of his residence at New Haven, 
he passed through a season of deep mental distress, 
under conviction of his great sinfulness, and sank 
almost entirely into a state of despair. In a person of 
such deep and tender sensibility, his suffering must 
have been much exaggerated by his tendency to ner- 
vous depression ; and it must always be difficult to 
discriminate how much of this distress arises from the 
real state of the heart, and how much from the imag- 
ination and a morbid self-condemnation. The mys- 
teries of the soul must be left to be judged by the 
great Source of all spiritual illumination. In the 
words of a contemporary, ' As he obtained a glorious 
hope, and passed from death to life, he determined to 
consecrate his time, his talents, and his acquirements 
to the interest and cause of the Redeemer. He read 
the whole of Turretinus in the original, with great 
satisfaction ' ; and it was then that he drew up the 
confession of faith and form of self-dedication that 
follows, and decided to devote the whole strength of 


his mind to preparing himself for that profession which 
became the dearest object and the ultimate cause of 
the most intense devotion of his life. 

I seem almost to wrong my father in saying that 
the ministry was his profession. It was his life. 
The cause of his Master was his own cause. He con- 
sidered the office of a minister, a preacher of the word 
of life, the most honorable in the world ; and that the 
learning, the talents, the acquirements of the most 
gifted minds were all too little to be devoted to its 
interests. To spend and be spent in the cause of 
religion were words often in his mouth, and the most 
devoted purpose of his life. His religious convictions 
and his religious studies resulted in the following 
form of faith, as the reader will perceive, wholly Cal- 
vinistic. At the time when he settled at Portsmouth, 
it was not asked if a minister were orthodox, but 
only if he were sincere and devout. There is some 
reason to believe, that, at the time he settled, or soon 
afterward, his views were somewhat modified ; but 
like his honored predecessor whom he immediately 
succeeded, c his heart was of no sect.' 

' I believe that there is a God, subsisting in three persons, 
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, possessing all perfection ; 
infinitely holy, just, wise, and powerful ; true, gracious, and 
compassionate ; in whom alone every thing that is amiable 
and lovely centres, and from whom the happiness of rea- 
sonable creatures must proceed. That this God made all 
worlds, and rules and governs them by his power and 
providence, so that the smallest event does not happen but 
by his permission. That he brought man into being, 
formed after his image, and capable of knowing and loving 
and enjoying God, and of rendering him that honor and 


glory which was his due. That God entered into covenant 
with this first man, and, in him, with his posterity : the 
conditions of this covenant were, that, if he continued in 
his allegiance, and abstained from the fruit of a particular 
tree, (which was denied him as a test of his obedience,) he 
and his posterity should be confirmed in life ; but that the 
day he ate thereof he should surely die, — he, and his 
posterity in him. 

4 But man broke this covenant, and exposed himself and 
his posterity to the threatened punishment, lost the original 
rectitude of his nature, and became the instrument of 
communicating a corrupt nature to his descendants. In 
this state God might have left him to suffer the wages of 
his folly. But God, who exalted himself to show mercy, 
having from all eternity chosen some of this fallen race to 
salvation, through sanctification of the spirit and belief of 
the truth, did disclose a way in which his broken law might 
be repaired, his justice satisfied, and the offenders saved ; 
(but, as a God was offended, so a God must suffer.) The 
second person in the sacred Three, the eternal Son of God, 
voluntarily offered to stand in man's stead, and suffer the 
punishment which he had merited. He is accepted by the 
Father, and, upon condition that he satisfied the demands 
of justice, it was promised that he should bring those to 
the enjoyment of God who were from all eternity chosen 
by him. 

' I believe that this Divine person, when the time ap- 
pointed came, descended to this world, took human nature, 
and was born of the Virgin Mary, without sin. That he 
perfectly obeyed the law of God, and, suffering the penalty 
of man's sin, was crucified by the Jews ; that he died, was 
buried, and on the third day rose again, and ascended into 
heaven ; received the approbation of his Father, and is 
seated at his right hand. 

' I believe that this same Jesus shall come again to judge 
the world, attended with his holy angels, and that all those 


that have ever lived, together with those who shall be then 
found alive, shall be summoned before his bar, to receive 
according to' the deeds done in the bodv- And, according 
as they are found to have accepted the mercy offered in 
the Gospel, and have thereby become interested in the 
righteousness of Christ, or to have despised this mercy and 
obtained no interest in this righteousness, so thev shall be 
received to everlasting happiness, or be thrust down to 
everlasting misery, in the place where the worm dieth not 
and the fire is not quenched. 

' I believe that all mankind are naturally in a state of 
death ; that they have an aversion to God and his law ; that 
the seeds of evil lie in the heart, and that it is owing to the 
restraining grace of God that they do not break forth in 
gross acts of impiety ; that unless man is recovered from 
this state, and his temper and disposition entirely changed, 
he never can see the kingdom of God. 

i I believe that man is absolutely unable to produce this 
change ; that it is the work of the Spirit to renew and 
change the heart, to bring sin to remembrance, and to 
discover to the mind its deformity and lead to godly sorrow, 
which works repentance unto life, never to be repented of: 
yet it is the duty of all persons to strive to obtain this 
change, and wait upon God in all his institutions ; as it is 
in this way that grace is most commonly bestowed, faith 
coming by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 

' I believe that it is bv faith alone that we become inter- 
ested in the righteousness of Christ, and entitled to the 
benefits of his purchase ; that this faith is the gift of God, 
and not given on account of any merit in the recipient, but 
of the free mercy and grace of God ; and that this faith 
does not entitle to salvation on account of any merit that 
there is in it : the righteousness of Christ is the only ground 
of justification, and the meritorious cause of our acceptance 
with God ; but this faith is the means of our becoming 
interested in this righteousness, and a qualification that 
must be found in us in order to our being accepted. 


' I believe that those who are once savingly illumined, 
and brought home to God by his blessed Spirit, and have 
been led to embrace Christ in the arms of faith, and love 
and trust his merits for their pardon, justification, and 
complete salvation, shall never fail of it ; but He that 
hath begun a good work in them shall carry it on till the 
day of judgment, nor shall any thing pluck them out of his 

' I believe that God is willing to receive into covenant 
with him all those who have been his enemies, and who, 
like the prodigal son, have spent their living in riot and 
debauchery, if they sincerely repent, hate their former 
conduct, and turn unto God with their whole heart. Who- 
soever cometh unto me, saith our Saviour, I will in no wise 
cast out. 

1 Under a full and firm persuasion of these things, I, who 
acknowledge myself the greatest of sinners, having offended 
my Maker, reproached my Redeemer, and grieved his Holy 
Spirit, — yet knowing that God delighteth not in the death 
of a sinner, but would rather that he should turn from his 
wicked way and live, forsake his own thoughts, and turn 
unto the Lord, who hath promised that he will have mercy, 
and to our God, who will abundantly pardon, — desiring to 
rely upon the great propitiatory sacrifice through the Lord 
Jesus Christ for acceptance, — I would now in the most 
solemn manner, in the presence of God and of the holy 
angels, dedicate and devote myself to God with all that he 
hath been pleased to bestow upon me, or shall permit me 
hereafter to enjoy, knowing that other lords have had 
dominion over me, and that I have served other gods. I 
desire now to renounce them all and avow the Lord 
Jehovah, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be my God 
and portion ; giving myself up to the Father, as my 
Creator, who gave me every thing T possess, who hath 
watched over me all my life, and with a liberal hand hath 
dispensed his favors, praying that he would consecrate to 


himself all the ability I have to serve him, whether natural 
or acquired. I would give myself up to the Lord Jesus 
Christ, as to my glorious and exalted Redeemer, through 
whom alone there is hope of salvation, and, renouncing 
all my own works as filthy rags, would trust solely and 
entirely to his righteousness as the meritorious cause of my 
justification and acceptance with God ; in which I hope to 
be interested by its being freely imputed to me, which God 
of his own mercy shall be pleased to bestow upon me. I 
would give up myself to the Holy Ghost, as my sanctifier, 
enabling rne to hate, loathe, and abhor sin, and to flee from 
it, shunning the least appearance of evil. I would give up 
myself to the sacred Three in One, and One in Three, as to 
that Being who has the sole right and title to me. I would 
receive the word of God as the rule of my conduct, and 
believe whatever God hath said, though it be above my 
comprehension, knowing that what God hath said is true, 
though finite capacity cannot say how. I would trust to 
God for spiritual illumination, that I may be able to under- 
stand spiritual things, and to receive instruction from him 
with respect to what I ought to believe and practise. 

1 Knowing my proneness to transgress and disobey the 
commands of God, the temptations that attend me, both 
within and without, from my own wicked heart and the 
subtle adversary of souls, I would exercise all watchfulness 
over myself, but trust solely to the Captain of my salvation 
to secure me from falling, to enable me to conquer all my 
spiritual enemies, and to resolve, by his grace assisting me, 
I will maintain a constant fight with every indwelling cor- 
ruption, and walk in all the commandments and ordinances 
of the Lord, and place a double guard against those sins to 
which I am most inclined. 

4 And now, O that the merciful God, who is a God of 
compassion, and who delighteth not in the death of a sinner, 
would accept of me as his unworthy servant, and make me 
one of his family ; grant me the spirit of adoption, and 


ratify in heaven what I have attempted to do on earth ; 
make me sincere and steadfast in this covenant, that this 
transaction may be remembered with joy and not with 
regret, when I shall stand before his righteous tribunal ! 
Then may it not be an aggravating circumstance in my 
condemnation that I have dealt deceitfully with God, or 
forgotten this covenant of my youth. 

' Joseph Buckminster.' 

It was at this period of my father's life that he 
suffered the first attack of mental despondency, a 
form of nervous disease which followed him at inter- 
vals, with greater or less severity, through the whole 
of his life. This moral depression, or spiritual dark- 
ness, often wholly unattended by mental delusion, 
which has been thought to be occasioned by gloomy 
views of religion, is now universally admitted by men 
of medical science to be induced by some impenetrable 
derangement of the delicate structure of the nerves. 
Religion, which should ever be the fountain of joy 
and happiness, is relieved from the unjust suspicion 
of being the parent of gloom and melancholy. 

Such disease is now better understood than it was 
fifty years ago, but it still defies the scrutiny of the 
most sagacious science, and the alleviation of the 
most tender humanity. The mind and the body 
partake equally of the depression ; the former loses 
its energy, and the latter becomes emaciated and 
weak. But, while the delusion of imaginary infirmity 
is so strong, the patient is often relieved by the reality. 
A serious attack of illness, or a certain degree of 
criminality, could it be attached to the conscience, 
would alleviate the imaginary ills of the victim ; but 
alas ! this insidious enemy preys upon consciences of 



the purity of childhood, and health often robust and 
vigorous. The imagination usually fixes upon per- 
sonal unworthiness, and exaggerates venial offences 
into the darkest crimes, charging the innocent con- 
science with every species of offence, with every 
imaginable sin, till it is persuaded of its irreparable 
condition. To them, the door of pardon is for ever 
closed ; hope never comes to them, that comes to all 
beside. At the same time, the victim's demands upon 
himself are of the most inexorable severity, while the 
will is prostrate and powerless to perform, and, the 
imagination cruelly excited at the disparity between 
the demand and the performance, the reason sinks 
before it, and the victim is overwhelmed with despair. 
At this stage of the disease, he can see no relief but 
in death, upon which the most timid spirit often rushes 
with frantic eagerness. The young, whose prospects 
are cloudless, and upon whose life has fallen no shade 
of sorrow, are often the prey of this nameless misery. 
Let them, if possible, not despair. Time, the healer 
of the heaviest real sorrows, is no less merciful in his 
ministrations to the wounded spirit; and the time will 
assuredly come, when they will look back upon this 
affliction as upon the morning clouds that have rolled 
away and left the dew of their youth bright upon 

Cowper, from his exquisite gifts and the singular 
purity of his life, has been the most prominent example 
of this unhappy malady ; and experience has shown, 
that the most delicate organizations, consciences of 
the most tender susceptibility, whose purity has never 
been stained by an unjust deed or a guilty thought, 
are the most liable to this fear of personal unworthi- 


ness, that will shut them for ever from the presence 
of God. 

In Cowper, as in many others, the innocent and 
tender spirit was entangled in the sombre and gloomy 
tenets that have been engrafted upon the mild and 
love-speaking doctrines of Jesus, and from this reason, 
perhaps, religion, or a certain form of religions faith, 
has been assigned as the unhappy cause of this form 
of nervous disease ; but every form of faith may be 
equally charged, and equally exonerated from the 
charge. The Catholic, — who invests his confessor 
or his saint with the responsibility of his conscience, 
— the Unitarian, and the Universalist have no immu- 
nity from the delusions of the imagination, or the 
dominion* of this giant of despair. Appeals to the 
reason and to the conscience, the soothing voice 
of friendship and love, the administration of the 
tenderest consolations, do but strengthen the bands 
of their wretchedness. Let not these delusions of 
the afflicted spirit be charged upon any form of 
that blessed religion, whose spirit in all its applica- 
tions is the consoler and strengthener of the heart of 




Having received a unanimous invitation from the 
parish, Mr. Buckminster was ordained over the North 
Church in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, January 27, 
1779. He succeeded two distinguished pastors, Drs. 
Langdon and Stiles, who had been successively re- 
moved to become presidents, the one of Harvard, the 
other of Yale College. They were both remarkable 
men, and Dr. Stiles, the immediate predecessor of Mr. 
Buckminster, was one of the most learned scholars in 
the country. In the words of Dr. Channing, ' This 
country has not, perhaps, produced a more learned 
man, and his virtues were proportioned to his intel- 
lectual acquisitions. In his faith he was a moderate 
Calvinist : but his heart was of no sect. He carried 
into his religion the spirit of liberty that then stirred 
the~whole country.' In some respects, it must have 
been a great advantage to have had such predecessors, 
but it must also have taxed all the energies of mind 
and heart of the young pastor to fill the place, to 
sustain the rank, and to meet the expectations of 
a parish accustomed to the ministrations of these 
honored men. Dr. Stiles was, besides, fifty years 


old when installed at Portsmouth, and had been a 
settled pastor at Newport twenty-two years. Mr. 
Buckminster was twenty-eight, and the previous 
eleven years had been spent in the seclusion of a 
college life. 

Portsmouth had always been distinguished by its 
liberality of spirit, and its generosity to its ministers. 
Before Dr. Stiles arrived among them, the parish had 
thoroughly furnished a good house for his reception. 
He remained scarcely a year, and the young pastor, 
being single, needed no such expensive preparation ; 
but he was received with a warmth that soon rose to 
enthusiasm. He was endowed with natural gifts that 
eminently fitted him for the pulpit. His voice was 
strong and musical, and possessed the peculiarity that 
its lowest tones were singularly clear, and could be 
distinctly heard in the remotest corner of the vast 
meeting-house, with its two galleries. He took a 
prominent part in the singing. His voice could 
always be distinguished in the full choir by its 
purity and bell-like, silver sound ; and he delighted, 
in the absence of the ladies of the choir, to take the 
contralto part. His appearance in the pulpit was 
most dignified and graceful ; and when we add to 
the fervor and glow of his devotions, that his whole 
manner was penetrated by a peculiar pathos, a deep 
feeling, that illumined his countenance and trembled 
in the earnestness of his voice, it is not surprising that 
no one who ever saw him in the pulpit could forget 
the impression he made. There, too, was his chief 
joy, his most exhilarating duty. ' He preferred the 
dust of Zion to the gardens of Persia, and the broken 
walls of Jerusalem to the palaces of Shushan.' 



There were many circumstances connected with 
his settlement in Portsmouth that were important to 
his usefulness, and agreeable in their influence ; others, 
that determined the color of his life and wove the 
whole web of his joys and sorrows. Among the 
former was the character of the surrounding ministers, 
with whom many of his social hours were spent, and 
who, in the language of sympathy, ' strengthened his 
hands and encouraged his heart.' In this connection, 
we must speak of the Piscataqua Association of Min- 
isters, of whom it has lately been said, that ' they 
were almost all of them picked men ; such as now 
would only be found in metropolitan parishes. They 
were sufficient, each of himself, to give a name and a 
character to the town which enjoyed his services, and 
to attract to his parsonage the most distinguished men 
in every walk of life.' The same eloquent writer 
adds, that ' they solved in practice the problem of 
which the key is now lost, that of harmony of spirit 
and cordial cooperation amongst ministers of widely 
different creeds.'* They were, indeed, what they 
called each other, a band of 'brothers.' The above 
remarks were no doubt made with some reference to 
the state of the country, the estimation in which 
ministers were held, and the influence they exerted 
in the last century. There is, no doubt, a much 
higher degree of intellectual culture among ministers 
at the present day, but the range of country in which 
the ' Piscataqua Association ' was found had a much 
greater relative importance at that time : and in some 
instances the ministers were deemed fit for more bril- 

* Rev. A. P. Peabody, of Portsmouth, in the Christian Examiner 
for May, 1848, Vol. IX. No. III., Fourth Series. 


liant stations. The singular fact, that four of the 
1 Piscataqua Association ' were chosen to be presidents 
of colleges, proves that they were appreciated ; — 
Dr. Langdon and Dr. Stiles, Dr. Apple ton, and 
Dr. Stevens, of Kittery Point. The latter was 
chosen by the Fellows of Harvard College in 1769, 
but being suspected of a leaning to the mother 
country in the approaching contest, the appointment 
was not confirmed by the Overseers. 

The monthly meetings of the Association were 
seasons of really cordial fellowship, and of social and 
animated intercourse, and were made the medium of 
religious instruction to their respective parishes. 
Their usual course was to meet successively at each 
brother's house at ten o'clock in the forenoon ; those 
who lived at the distance of ten or fifteen miles, in 
those days of slow travelling and country roads, 
were obliged to come the previous evening. There 
was a religious service in the meeting-house, begin- 
ning at eleven, at which the exercises were assigned 
in rotation, or were appointed by the brother at whose 
house they met. The dinner, afterwards, was a truly 
social repast, where wit, and freedom, and a moderate 
degree of gayety prevailed. Clergymen, when their 
labors are over, enjoy more entirely than any other 
class of men the agreeable relaxation that follows, — 
agreeable in kind, in its allowances, and in its re- 

It must not be supposed that the demands of twelve 
or eighteen ministers and their horses upon their 
brother's oats, and upon the exertions of the family 
to prepare a suitable dinner, were either light or 
trifling. In the writer's recollection, the festival of 


ministers' meeting holds the same honorable place as 
to sumptuousness and variety of viands with the 
more rare ordination or the annual thanksgiving ; and 
I believe the wives of the ministers used devoutly to 
pray that their meeting might not be in the winter. 

Of the older members of the Association, Drs. Ste- 
vens, Haven, and M'Clintock, only a faint and indis- 
tinct image remains in the memory of the writer. 
Of the others, it is not invidious to say that Dr. 
Appleton, afterwards President of Bowdoin College, 
and Mr. Buckminster were the animating soul. 
Nearly all the others were obliged, like Paul, from 
the inadequacy of their support from their parishes, 
to labor with their hands at some other calling. The 
manse of each was the home of all, and in those days, 
when the door was fastened only with a simple latch, 
the situation of the prophet's chamber was so familiar 
to the feet of the brethren, that, if one arrived after 
the family had retired for the night, he found his way 
to it, and the first indication the family had of a guest 
was his appearance at breakfast the next morning. 

In nearly all of them there was a marked individ- 
uality of character that would have furnished rich 
materials for the pen of Scott. The Rev. Joseph 
Litchfield was settled over a little village of fisher- 
men, and his appearance, at least, was that of a pilot 
who had weathered a hundred storms. He was wel- 
come to every fireside for the quaint and graphic 
simplicity of his language, and eminently liked in 
the pulpit by the younger members of the family for 
the extreme brevity of his sermons ; which sermons 
were always begun and finished by lamp-light on 
Saturday evening. The praise of brevity could not 


be given to the sermons of the Rev. Huntington 
Porter, from Rye, close upon the sea. There was an 
aridity in the sermons and in the aspect of the 
preacher, that bore as strong a resemblance to the 
sand upon the sea-shore as the Rev. Mr. Litchfield's 
did to the calling of his flock. They were both like 
those wholesome fruits, whose mellow and sweet 
qualities are covered with a rough and husky rind. 
Mr. Litchfield's prayers, made up of quotations of the 
highly figurative language of Scripture, never varied ; 
if he had been cut short in any part of them, the 
youngest of his hearers could have taken up the strain 
and gone on to the end. 

Those ministers who were settled in the parishes 
upon the borders of the sea, whose hearers were part 
fishermen, part agriculturists, were eminently prac- 
tical men ; they were teachers and pioneers for both 
worlds, and they seemed to enjoy 'the blessings of 
heaven above, and the blessing of the deep that lieth 
under; the dew of the mountains, and the riches of 
the deep that coucheth beneath' ; for many of them 
died comparatively rich, even in the goods of this 

There is an anecdote told of one of the Piscataqua 
Association, who, addressing a society of fishermen, 
wished to adapt his discourse to the understanding of 
his hearers. He inquired, ' Supposing, in a northeast 
storm, you should be taken short in the bay, your 
hearts trembling with fear, and nothing but death be- 
fore you, whither would your thoughts turn ? to whom 
would you fly ? ' One of the hearers, arrested by the 
description, cried out, < Why, in that case, I should 
hoist the foresail and scud away for Squam.' 


The Rev. Mr. Chandler, of Eliot, taught his parish 
how to turn the waste places, literally, into a garden, 
and to make the desert blossom as the rose. He was 
the first who supplied the Portsmouth market with 
vegetables. He taught the women to be the best of 
husband??? e?z, to work double tides, with the hoe and 
the oar ; and withal, he contrived to bring an unusual 
degree of refinement for the time and place into his 
parish, and to cultivate the best affections of his peo- 
ple. The moral soil kept pace with the natural, and 
while this portion of the shores of the Piscataqua 
was distinguished for its deeper verdure, its richer 
foliage, the people were remarkable for the courtesy 
of their manners and the honesty of their dealings. 
The wives of the fishermen were the market-women 
of Portsmouth. There was a small market-house 
where they assembled, after having made fast the 
boats which they rowed with their own hands, and 
then dispersed themselves, with their wares, through 
the town. 

There were families that had been furnished by the 
selfsame women long years, from blooming youth to 
wrinkled age, with eggs, berries, chickens, spun yarn, 
knitted stockings, &c, coming as regularly as the 
Saturday came, till a bond of mutual dependence was 
formed ; and the familiar face that had been comely 
in youth continued to them the same, although to 
strangers it assumed the witch-like appearance of 
Meg Merrilies. 

One more of the Association, so familiar and hon- 
ored in the youth of the writer, shall be mentioned. 
The Rev. Jacob Abbot, of Hampton Falls, was a man 
of extreme sensibility, and of an inequality of tem- 


p^rrment which subjected him to alternate seasons of 
dejection and exhilaration. His countenance imme- 
diately betrayed which state of feeling predominated, 
and all his services, even in the pulpit, partook of the 
variableness of his temperament. He was dear to 
children and young people, from the tender and fa- 
miliar interest he felt in their improvement. He was 
always a welcome guest, from his delicate fear of 
giving trouble ; and as he continued a more intimate 
intercourse with Massachusetts, and the literary and 
polite world there, than some others of the Associa- 
tion, his conversation was more rich and varied, and 
more entertaining to the young. 

As has been said above, these ministers differed 
widely in their religious views; between the two ex- 
tremes of the strict Calvinist and the believer in 
universal salvation was included among them every 
shade of Protestant faith. Although their opinions 
were freely discussed in these meetings, they do not 
appear in any offensive prominence in the two pub- 
lications they put forth, the Missionary Magazine and 
the Piscataqua Prayer-Book, but were merged in the 
great object of their writing and their preaching, to 
turn sinners to God by faith in Jesus Christ, and to 
produce virtuous and holy lives. 

The Piscataqua Missionary Magazine was a boon 
in their families. Like the new year's almanac, it 
was read from the first page to the last, — most grate- 
fully, if it contained an i entertaining anecdote ' ; and 
news of even missionary proceedings was read with 
avidity, at a time when there was no yellow, nor 
blue, nor broAvn-covered literature to fill up the Sun- 
day hours that were not spent in the sanctuary. 


The other publication was l A Prayer-Book for the 
Use of Families,' in which the address to heads of 
families was written by Dr. Buckminster. There is 
in this such a remarkable absence of sectarianism, 
and such a unity of spirit, that all the prayers seem 
to have proceeded from one mind and one heart, 
together with a simplicity of faith and expression that 
could be understood by a child. 

The remarks that have been made touching the 
unanimity of feeling in the Piscataqua Association 
must be understood to refer to the close of the last 
century, before the critical study of the Scriptures 
had introduced diversity of opinion upon the subject 
of the Trinity. 




Portsmouth from its foundation presented a state 
of society unlike that of any other place in New 
England. It was not settled from motives of religion, 
but for purposes of trade. Possessing one of the most 
beautiful localities, of intermingled land and water, 
its advantages of harbor and fishing-ground presented 
an alluring prospect to persons wishing to gain for- 
tunes and to enjoy life. A well-authenticated anec- 
dote shows that the inhabitants themselves would not 
hypocritically appropriate to themselves the praise of 
being a religious society. A reverend divine, preach- 
ing to them against the depravity of the times, said, 
' You have forsaken the pious habits of your fore- 
fathers, who left the ease and comfort they possessed 
in their native land, and came to this howling wilder- 
ness, to enjoy the exercise of their religion and a pure 
worship.' One of the congregation rose and said, 
4 Sir, you entirely mistake the matter: our ancestors 
did not come here on account of their religion, but to 
fish and trade.' 

The settlement, the government, and the prevailing 
tone of society were different from most of the New 
England towns. There was no Puritanism in the 



early religion of the place. The settlers of Ports- 
mouth retained their attachment to the English 
Church. Their first worship was Episcopalian, with 
service-books, hassocks, glebe-land, and manse. Even 
after the union with Massachusetts, the law that to 
be a freeman one must be a church member was dis- 
pensed with. The air that blew so freshly over the 
purple waves of the Piscataqua* was truly the air of 
freedom. There was no persecution for religious 
opinions in Portsmouth. The wolf's head, that was 
nailed on the meeting-house door, did not indicate 
the spirit that breathed within, f 

The clergy had little or no influence beyond that 
which character gave them. The first Congregational 
minister, and there was no one of that denomination 
settled till 1671, was prosecuted and imprisoned by 
Governor Cranfield because he refused to administer 
the communion according to the form of the English 
Church. The Governor had no design to make the 
church Episcopalian, but sought this mode of re- 
venging himself upon the minister, who had offended 
him ; and four out of six of the judges concurred in 
the sentence. Could such a thing have taken place, 
under like circumstances, with a VYilson or a Cotton ? 

Puritanism had little influence in forming the char- 
acter of Portsmouth. The people were impulsive and 
enthusiastic ; easily excited to rejoicings, which they 
demonstrated with great splendor and extravagance, 

* Every one who has lived at Portsmouth must recollect the pecu- 
liar steely color of the river. 

f In those early times, every one who killed a wolf nailed his head 
upon the meeting-house door, and received five pounds reward from 
the government. 


they were, on the contrary, little given to days of fast- 
ing and prayer. When the news and the agent of the 
Stamp Act arrived in Portsmouth, instead of appoint- 
ing a day of fasting, they had what turned out to be a 
joyous procession and jubilee. It began indeed with 
mourning. The bells were tolled, and a funeral cor- 
tege formed, bearing a coffin with the inscription! 
' Liberty, aged 145 years.' This was carried with 
many ceremonies, to the grave. But as the news of 
the repeal had arrived before the day that the act was 
to go into operation, Liberty was rescued before it 
was buried, and carried off by its sons in triumph. 
Magazines of refreshments were provided at the cor- 
ners of the streets, and all ended with a dinner and a 
ball. Indeed, in almost all celebrations of public 
events, instead of a sermon there was a ball ; instead 
of days of fasting in Portsmouth, all public demon- 
strations of feeling ended with a feast. 

There was no parsimony in Portsmouth. The lib- 
erality of the town in its early days was shown in 
valuable donations to every institution of public utility, 
and in a most generous grant of four hundred pounds 
to Harvard College. The salaries of their earliest 
ministers were generous. To the rector, one hundred 
and thirty pounds, with glebe-land and parsonage, 
and the donations from strangers ; that is, the money 
laid upon the plate, which, in those early times, was 
placed in some conspicuous part of the meeting-house, 
and not needed by any poor persons. 

There were large fortunes made in Portsmouth, 
and the inhabitants imitated in splendor of living the 
mother country. Governor Wentworth, a man of 
most brilliant talents and accomplishments, with his 


enlarged views, refined tastes, and elegant manners, — 
with the means also of expense, receiving as he did 
a large salary,* — set the example of social enter- 
tainments, and promoted every elegant amusement. 
There were more private carriages and livery servants 
in Portsmouth, in proportion to the number of inhab- 
itants, than in any other place in New England. 
Even as late as the end of the last century, the writer 
can recollect scattered remnants of the former splen- 
dor. Within the old meeting-house, ancient, venera- 
ble forms loom out of the distant dimness, arrayed in 
all the splendor of the costume of the court of George 
the Third. Immense wigs, white as snow, coats 
trimmed with gold lace, embroidered waistcoats, 
ruffles of delicate cambric worn by the rougher sex, 
cocked hats and gold-headed canes, — costumes that 
would now be assumed for a masquerade, — were 
scattered through the old meeting-house : and then at 
the church door were the chariots, with livery foot- 
men behind, to take the delicate-footed gentlemen to 
their homes. But these were only the broken and 
scattered remnants of the old fabric of society, — the 
preserved ornaments of old-fashioned splendor. The 
real wealth of the town, within the memory of the 
writer, was in the younger men, the merchants, sons 
of the workingmen and of the ministers of the pre- 
ceding age. 

There is no record remaining, accessible to the 
writer, of Dr. Buckminster's ordination. He was un- 
married, and went immediately to board in the family 
of one of his deacons, at this time consisting of a 

# His salary, besides his house-rent and farm, was fourteen hun- 
dred pounds. A large sum previous to the Revolution. 


middle-aged, childless couple. In the memory of the 
writer, as known at a later period, they held so ven- 
erahle and so peculiar an aspect, that she would fain 
transfer a sketch of them to her pages. They dwelt 
in a small, plain house, one little parlor of ten feet 
square containing all that was requisite for their com- 
fort. The deacon himself tended a little shop in front 
of the parlor, filled with needles, pins, tape, quality- 
binding, snuff, — that most common luxury, — with 
a small pair of scales to weigh a copper's worth. 
The deacon always wore a full suit of very light drab 
broadcloth, with white cotton stockings and silver 
knee-buckles, and a full-bottomed white horse-hair 
wig, always powdered. His exquisitely plaited cam- 
bric ruffles were turned back while he was in the 
shop, under white linen sleeves or cuffs, and a white 
linen apron preserved the purity of the fine drab 

His solitary mate sat in the little three-cornered 
parlor, whose fireplace was an afterthought, and built 
into the corner ; the bricks forming successive little 
shelves, where various small things could be kept 
warm. There she sat all day at her round table with 
needle-Avork, dressed in an old-fashioned brocade, 
with an exquisite lawn handkerchief folded over it, 
and environed with a scrupulous neatness, where the 
litter of children's sports never came. In the stoical 
childhood of the writer, it was a blessed recreation to 
be permitted to go and drink tea with the old-fashioned 
pair. The visiter sat upon the stair that came down 
into the room, and observed the process of making 
tea, when the bright copper kettle was placed before 
the fire, and the waiter with small china cups took 



the place of the work-basket upon the round table. 
Then, as the evening shades gathered in that little 
room, and the tea-kettle sang louder and louder, the 
mate of this solitary nest came in from the shop. His 
white wig was exchanged for a linen cap, the cuffs 
and the apron laid aside, and the latchet of the silver 
shoe-buckle unloosed, but not taken out. His place 
was also at another small table, where were writing 
materials and the ledger of the little establishment. 

It was the proud office of the childish visiter to be 
permitted to carry the smoking cup of tea across the 
few steps that divided the tables without spilling a 
drop, more than rewarded by the benignant smile, 
the courteous politeness, of the old gentleman. Yes, 
although he sold snuff by the copper's worth, he was 
a true paladin, chivalrous to his companion, whom he 
always called 'My love,' while she addressed him by 
the plainer title of 'Neighbor,' obeying, no doubt, the 
injunction of Scripture that she should love her neigh- 
bor as herself. 

In this frugal, uniform, secluded manner, they passed 
the evening of a life that had once been more eventful, 
and with greater means of expense, and in retaining 
the costume of better days, unsuited to the business 
of the small shop, they retained what conduced to 
their own unassuming self-respect. The old lady 
sometimes folded her work and closed her evening in 
the words of Dr. Watts : — 

1 I'm tired of visits, modes, and forms, 
And flatteries paid to fellow-worms ; 

Their conversation cloys, — 
Their vain amours, and empty stuff; 
But I can ne'er enjoy enough 

Of thy dear company.' 


In my childish simplicity, it seemed a beautiful com- 
pliment to her companion ; but as I now understand 
its significance, it seems almost a parody upon their 
quiet life. 

Another family, which presents a contrast to the 
last, appears in the magnifying memory of childhood 
with fourfold lustre, and their dwelling 'like a palace 
in El Dorado, overlaid with precious metal.' And 
there, at the gate of the palace, stood daily the chariot 
and the liveried servants, and the lady came forth, 
stately, powdered, and, in the thought of the humble 
child, too delicate to press the rough earth with her 
foot ; and when she was seated, the two liveried 
negroes stood behind, and thus the pageant passed 
on. But all the barriers of ceremony were over- 
leaped when we were permitted to visit the great 
house ; for there was the only daughter, the only 
child of the house, but a few years older than ourself, 
lively, natural, amiable, and generous, in all the fulness 
of a noble heart. She was ready to instruct us in 
what she knew, and ready to join in any game for 
our amusement. 

Governor Langdon, of whose family I speak, and 
to whose friendship I would pay a long-deferred but 
genuine tribute, was one of the most faithful, where 
all were faithful, of Dr. Buckminster's parishioners. 
His daughter endeared herself singularly to the affec- 
tions of children. The son of our family, of whom 
I shall presently speak, was happy in receiving from 
her his first impressions of the youthful feminine 
character. She was several years older, and had 
seen much more of the world ; therefore it was in 
her power to give him many valuable lessons, to 


instruct him in politeness, and to watch his progress 
in graceful manners and in deference to the society 
of ladies. He repaid her with the warmest gratitude 
and attachment ; and a friendship that began almost 
in his infancy went on increasing to the last hour of 
his life. 

Another, a middle group in the faithful and true 
pictures of a society long since passed away. This 
is the family of a favorite physician, the dearly loved 
and trusted friend. He also wears a full suit of a rich 
brown color, with cambric ruffles, silk stockings, and 
gold buckles at his knees and shoes. His is a small 
wig, or hair, curled and powdered at the sides, with 
a black silk bag behind, a three-cornered hat, and a 
gold-headed cane. As he picks his way, with quick, 
but careful steps, through the muddy streets, his hat 
is completely off at the meeting of every townsman, 
and every child is his particular care. From all the 
fresh young lips of the little girls, he takes a tribute 
as he passes ; they hold up their rosy faces, charmed 
with the familiar courtesy of the much-enduring man, 
and feeling richer for what they have given. 

Let us follow him to his home, where the exquisite 
brightness of the old-fashioned andirons, the brilliant 
polish of the furniture, the closely drawn curtains, 
give to the modest apartment the charm of elegance, 
and something even more home-like than elegance 
can impart. The wife, a faithful picture of the olden 
time, calm, stately, and lady-like, benignant and most 
lovable to children, — for she is herself childless, — 
brings forth her treasures of a yet more ancient time 
to charm the winter's evening. Another figure, dear 
to my childhood's memory, must not be omitted, — 


the grandmother of the hostess, then nearly ninety, 
holding herself yet erect in the easy-chair, with lawn 
hood, white as snow, plaited closely round the silvery 
hair, that is folded back over a cushion, — a fashion 
almost as old as the first century of the country. 
Beneath, the pale, calm, passionless face of a beautiful 
old age, and the sightless eyes, claiming a mysterious 
reverence from our young hearts. How much of the 
past could I have learned from her, had I known how 
to ask ! 

In connection with the society in Portsmouth, as 
the place where such a character could find her appro- 
priate sphere, and among the events that contributed 
greatly to the happiness of Dr. Buckminster, should 
be mentioned the residence in the same town, and 
near him, of his sister Isabella and her husband, Mr. 
Amos Tappan, who was one of his most intimate 
personal friends, and for some years the deacon of 
his parish. This sister, Isabella, the youngest of the 
family, then about eighteen years old, came to visit 
her brother soon after his marriage, and Providence 
so ordered that she remained the constant sharer of 
his joys and sorrows, the efficient friend, to him and 
to his children, through life, and not widely divided 
from him in death. She followed her brother in less 
than two years after his decease. 

Mrs. Tappan was certainly one of the most remark- 
able, one of the most heroic (for heroism applies to 
moral and religious principles as well as to heroic 
actions), of which the last century, so fruitful in 
noble women, has left us the example. Although 
she has passed away, and there has been no record of 
her deeds on earth, yet if we are permitted to believe 


that heaven is a place where the good receive their 
reward in observing the happiness of those they bene- 
fited on earth, there has she also met her appropriate 

Mrs. Fry, Hannah More, and countless others, have 
been celebrated and admired. God forbid that one 
leaf should be shorn from the laurels that adorn their 
honored names ; but they had the aid of fortune, of 
wealthy and efficient friends, of constant applause, 
of increasing fame, of royal approbation, and of a 
final reward in the public gratitude of the nation. 
Mrs. Tappan wrought for many years alone, with 
discouragement and illness on her side, struggling 
constantly against a strong current of worldliness and 
avarice. Let it be remembered, also, that she began 
and carried on her labors before philanthropy had 
received an impulse from the spirit of the age ; before 
charity-schools, associations, and benevolent societies 
had an existence ; and in a place, too, where no fashion 
and no notoriety could attach to them. Her husband, 
who fully participated in her benevolent plans, and 
helped, after her decease, to carry them out, was 
master of the grammar-school in Portsmouth, with a 
salary never exceeding seven or eight hundred dollars. 
With these small pecuniary means, her benevolent 
plans were begun, carried on, and completed. With 
lion heart, she did not hesitate to attack avarice in its 
stronghold. With strong faith in the kindness of the 
human heart, with persuasive eloquence and unusual 
pathos in pleading the cause of the unfortunate, she 
approached the heart and the hand shut close upon its 
gold ; and one by one she unloosed the grasp of the 
fingers, and by degrees melted the ice about the heart, 
and gained her purpose. 


Her first object was the establishment of a charity- 
school for poor girls, and connected with it a Sunday 
school taught by young ladies enlisted by herself in 
this service. These children were taken from the 
lowest and most wretched class of society, were made 
respectable, and dressed in a neat uniform. Great was 
her delight when she saw them all neatly arrayed by 
her own exertions, and following their teachers to 
church, where a sermon was preached in their behalf 
by her brother, Dr. Buck minster, and a contribution 
taken. This, it must be remembered, was in the very 
beginning of the century, in 1803, before schools, 
especially Sunday schools, were thought of in this 
country. Finding these poor children still corrupted 
by the debasing influences of their homes, she changed 
her plan, and almost by her personal efforts alone 
established the Female Asylum in Portsmouth for 
destitute children. This institution met with much 
opposition, but was firmly sustained by her during 
her life. From causes which cannot be here detailed, 
it failed in the ultimate benefit expected from it. 

She was herself childless, but her home never 
lacked the cheerful voices and the kindly influences 
of young and childlike natures. Had her house been 
large enough, every motherless child would have 
found a home within it. Three young relatives of 
her husband's family and her own were permanently 
adopted by thern, and received all the benefits of a 
paternal and religious home ; and were educated to 
practise the self-denial and to value the benevolent 
influences that formed the atmosphere by which 
they were surrounded. As soon as her two adopted 
daughters were old enough, they were enlisted in her 


charitable forces, and helped to carry out her benevo- 
lent plans. She had read of Sunday schools in 
England, and was anxious to adopt them ; bat she 
had yet a stronger sentiment in favor of domestic 
religious instruction where it could be obtained. 
The colored population was very large at that time 
in Portsmouth, and, from the prejudice against color, 
their children did not enjoy the same privileges as 
others. Her benevolent heart keenly felt this injus- 
tice, and she sent her adopted daughters to collect 
the negro children in town, and to bring them to her 
own house, where there was religious instruction for 
them on the Sabbath ; to this was added a school 
every afternoon in the week, in which they were 
taught sewing, knitting, and reading. Both these 
schools were continued by these young ladies for 
many years. This Sabbath school was probably the 
first in New England. It was carried on in a humble, 
noiseless manner. It was scarcely known out of the 
street where she lived, and the investigation that has 
taken place about the honor of having instituted these 
useful schools has left this humble one, and that, also, 
connected with the charity-school in Portsmouth, 
wholly unmentioned. 

It was not children alone that claimed her care. 
The old, the neglected, the sorrowful, the deserted, 
the forgotten, were all her children and the recipients 
of her bounty. Every Sunday, some poor old crea- 
tures, weighed down with infirmity, friendless, with 
none but her to pity, were invited to sit by the 
kitchen fire, and there a good dinner of meat and 
pudding was carried to them by herself from her 
table ; her kind voice, her sympathizing eye, cheered 


them, and they were sent away refreshed with the 
reflection that one friend at least cared for them. 
Even the miserable inmates of the almshouse were 
invited to her cheerful table, not merely to be cheer- 
ed by a good dinner, but to be refreshed with the 
Christian sympathy of a heart alive to every impulse 
of humanity. This was not all. Her visits to the 
poor and afflicted were the daily doings, the constant 
duties and cares of the week. She sent her adopted 
children, and sometimes her nieces, to search out the 
victims of want and misfortune ; the highways and 
the hedges were explored ; and all were included in 
that comprehensive charity where the only claim was 
suffering and sorrow. 

All this was accomplished by one who was more 
than a third of the time prostrate on a bed of suffer- 
ing. She was subject to severe nervous headache, 
that, after some hours of acute suffering, was only 
relieved by opiates and sleep. While convalescent, 
she was planning her disinterested labors, which, the 
moment ease returned, were resumed and pursued 
with new ardor, before the return of another attack 
of pain. To use the beautiful words of another, ' She 
seemed an angel ever on the wing, leaving a path of 
light and love behind her.' Her noble, generous soul 
seemed to act from the instinct of beneficence. It 
was not necessary for her to pause. She felt that she 
was right. Her husband sometimes said, ' Should we 
not stop to investigate our motives more fully, before 
we undertake a new experiment ? ' She would answer, 
1 1 must not stop. I must act. Let motives take care 
of themselves; for while I am deliberating, some poor 
creature may be perishing for lack of aid.' With all 



this active charity, she was an angel of comfort and 
consolation by the bed of sickness, and in the cham- 
bers of the dying. She brought with her when she 
entered a calming, soothing power. Her cheerful 
countenance, her bright smile, and active step, when 
she entered the chamber of sickness, seemed instantly 
to banish anxiety and despondency. The writer of 
this imperfect sketch well remembers, that, w T ith the 
sensitive feelings of childhood and the anxious fears 
of ignorance, she sympathized too keenly when sick- 
ness and sorrow were in the family ; but the moment 
this valued relative entered the chamber, a weight 
was lifted from her spirits. ' All will now be well ' 
was whispered to her heart, and the sunshine returned 
to her breast. It is a peculiar faculty, a direct gift of 
nature, with which a few favored beings are endowed, 
thus to be the aids and comforters of others. 

As the mind of Mrs. Tappan was occupied with 
great plans of benevolence, she did not therefore 
neglect the smallest effort ; the cup of cold water was 
never forgotten. Among small aids for doing good 
was that of appropriating a room in her house to the 
use of a destitute, lonely widow, whose only occu- 
pation was making over old clothes, and repairing 
flannels and woollens, for the benefit of those who 
had none. When the materials failed, she spun and 
knit yarn into stockings for the poor. Bed-spreads 
and comforters were here quilted, that had been sewed 
together from the smallest scraps at her daughters' 
charity schools. Here, too, young ladies were invited 
to come, with thimble and needle, to spend a cheerful 
afternoon, leaving, as the result of their labors, gar- 
ments for her destitute poor, and fully repaid by her 
own cheerful and animated conversation. 


But her active and benevolent spirit received a new 
impulse after the publication of Buchanan's and other 
missionary works. She threw all the ardor of her 
soul and all the energies of her mind into the cause 
of missions. The rich were called upon to give, the 
young to aid with their labors, and her own days and 
nights were devoted to writing and to the diffusion of 
missionary information. A new spirit was awakened 
in the country, and young men rushed from the 
plough and the work-bench to schools and academies, 
to obtain the requisite knowledge, in order to depart 
as missionaries to heathen lands. The beautiful 
hymn of Bishop Heber fired them with new zeal in 
the cause : — 

' Fiom's icy mountains, 

From India's coral strand, 
Where Afric's sunny fountains 

Roll down their golden sand, 
.From many an ancient river, 

From many a palmy plain, 
They call us to deliver 

Their land from error's chain.' 

The call was obeyed. The young missionaries 
were welcomed by her and her husband to their hos- 
pitable roof; their wants supplied, their wardrobes 
repaired, their old clothes exchanged for new. For 
this purpose there was a chest of drawers appropriated 
to ready-made garments for missionaries ; and perhaps 
no satisfaction was ever greater than hers, when a 
young man was furnished and speeded on his labors. 
Her hopeful and imaginative mind looked forward 
into the future, and saw, with rapturous joy, the 
heathen forsaking his debasing superstitions, and 


whole nations converted to the blessed religion of 
Jesus. In faith she looked forward, but she wit- 
nessed only the dawn of missionary success. 

Mrs. Tappan's fervent spirit could not be satisfied 
with the common and ordinary sources of religious 
instruction. The pious fervor of her soul required a 
more intimate union with her fellow-Christians upon 
spiritual subjects. She was active, therefore, with 
other members of the church, in instituting meetings 
for prayer and religious inquiry, at which the presence 
of her brother, Dr. Buckminster, was always desired. 
A person, then in the morning of life, who was pres- 
ent at these meetings, speaks of them, after the lapse 
of thirty years, in these glowing terms : — 

<Dr. Buckminster s addresses at these meetings 
were more tender and impressive than his written 
sermons. Here he came near to heaven, with his and 
our sorrows and wants. Here was the Bible unfolded 
and taken to every heart, and Christians trained for 
heaven. In these Tittle rooms, unadorned and un- 
cushioned, sat Dr. Buckminster, as a ministering 
angel, his countenance beaming with heavenly love 
and his lips uttering celestial truths, leading that little 
company to the waters of eternal life. They drank 
there, and most of them are now at the fountain. 
They hunger no more, nor thirst, neither does the 
sun light on them or any heat. Those little white- 
washed rooms, — what scenes of interest could they 
unfold ! There I learned the value of the soul, and, 
I trust, found safety. I shall never forget the tender- 
ness and earnestness with which he spoke to me. The 
tears and the love of the pastor penetrated my soul. I 
feel assured it was in that little circle of affection and 



prayer that h^ strengthened his own spirit and lost his 
own burdens. Many who composed it were unlet- 
tered and unrefined, but in this weekly intercourse the 
elegance and refinement of his own mind were im- 
parted ; they caught the gentleness and urbanity of 
his manners ; they became strong in the Bible spirit, 
and were imbued with Bible truth. It is remarkable 
how soon they were all, or nearly all, called to follow 
him ; and what death-beds were theirs ! Most of them 
were eminently blessed at the close of life. Those 
peaceful, dying scenes are among my sweetest memo- 

Mrs. Tappan, in these meetings, as in every thing 
else, was the leader and enconrager of others. Her 
faith was rarely clouded, her intrepid spirit scarcely 
ever discouraged. ' There were occasions,' says one 
of her adopted daughters, ' in which she rose above 
herself, and appeared a superior being to all around 
her.' One of the occasions referred to was after the 
death of Dr. Buckminster, when, as often happens, 
there was disunion between the church and the parish 
in the choice of a candidate. Mrs. Tappan was deeply 
interested in the gentleman whom the church had 
chosen ; she could not bear to think of a disappoint- 
ment. ' The day of decision had arrived, and she 
spent it in her room, walking the floor, and endeavor- 
ing to stay her soul on God. At four o'clock the 
parish meeting closed, with a rejection of the candi- 
date. The brethren of the church, in silence and 
grief, assembled spontaneously at her house, but she 
was by this time wholly exhausted, and had taken to 
her bed. The friends went directly to her, and burst 
into a flood of tears, as they assembled around her. 



In an instant she sprang up in bed, and with heroic 
courage and eloquence she addressed them : — " What ! 
my friends," she said, "is it for us to be faint-hearted, 
while God lives ? The cause is his, not ours. He 
will take care of his own." And with astonishing 
energy and eloquence she continued to speak, till all 
were ashamed of their want of faith, and went for- 
ward with new resolution.' * 

Mrs. Tappan died in April, IS 14. There was a 
most affecting expression of the attachment which 
this friend of the sorrowful had inspired in every class 
of the community. During her short and fatal illness, 
her chamber, and all the avenues leading to it, were 
thronged with crowds of deeply anxious faces, asking 
and longing for one word of hope ; and when she 
died, the grief of the community was almost as fer- 
vent and universal as when her brother, Dr. Buck- 
minster, was taken from his parish. 

* Mrs. Bigelow, of Rochester, Mass. 





Mr. Buckminster had been settled in Portsmouth 
three years, when he married, in 1782, Sarah Stevens, 
the only child of Dr. Benjamin Stevens, of Kittery 
Point. Kittery Point, upon the Piscataqua River, 
opposite to Portsmouth, was at this and at an ear- 
lier period a fair town, in a flourishing condition. 
Merchants of large property made it their residence ; 
spacious houses were built, and strangers were much 
allured to the spot to enjoy the elegant hospitality of 
Sir William Pepperell. Dr. Stevens lived to see the 
decline of the place, the death or removal of his old 
friends, while the beautiful spot assumed almost its 
present appearance ; where the bright-flowing Piscat- 
aqua winds round empty fields, dotted only with the 
old trees of a former growth, and the land and water, 
so sweetly blended together, are varied only by its 
ancient tombs. 

The history of Dr. Stevens and his family is some- 
what peculiar. His father, the Rev. Joseph Stevens, 
was minister of the First Church of Charlestown, 
Massachusetts. Ordained in 1713, his ministry had 
been of only eight years' duration, when he himself, 
and, save one child, his whole family, consisting of 


his wife, two children, his wife's sister, and a maid- 
servant, were all swept off at once by the small-pox. 
His second son, Benjamin, then an infant of seven 
months old, was saved by the prudence of a nurse, 
who fled with him from the contagion to his grand- 
father's house in Andover. 

Mr. Stevens, the minister of Charlestown, was a 
man much beloved, and distinguished by peculiar 
graces. The Rev. Dr. Colman, of Brattle Street 
church, wrote of him a short biography, as a preface 
to four sermons upon that 'better, heavenly country,' 
which he was in the course of preaching when he 
was taken away, to dwell in that 'better land.' 

From this source we learn, that ' he was possessed 
of great personal beauty, and no less distinguished for 
the brilliant qualities of his mind. His countenance 
was grave, of a sweet expression, and full of life. He 
excelled in conversation, and the modesty of his de- 
portment gave a singular grace to the superiority and 
dignity that were natural to him. In the delivery of 
his sermons he was distinguished for his animation. 
His eyes as well as his tongue were wont to speak 
with such majesty, as well as solemnity, as com- 
manded the ears and hearts of his audience. Indeed, 
his natural advantages were such, that, while they 
formed a distinguished divine, they might have 
equally qualified him as a judge or a commander, had 
Providence called him to the bench or the field.' * 

It is a striking circumstance, perhaps, that this 
description of Mr. Stevens would apply with great 

* See the History of the First Church of Charlestown, by W. J. 


exactness to his great-grandson, the pastor of Brattle 
Street church, who inherited his name, as well as his 
personal graces. Their ministry also was of the same 
duration, — eight years, — both dying in their full 
strength, one at twenty-eight, the other at forty years 
of age. 

The single scion of the family who escaped the 
ravages of the small-pox, the orphan Benjamin, was 
educated at Harvard College, and settled at Kittery 
Point, at that time, as mentioned above, a flourishing 
and attractive place. He married Mary, a daughter 
of Judge Remington, of Cambridge.* His wife died 
early, leaving him an only child, a daughter, thus 
motherless, at the age of ten years. When urged to 
marry again, he replied, — 'I do not feel that the tie 
that bound me to one now in heaven is dissolved by 
death; I live in the firm faith of meeting my wife 
again.' When he was reminded that it was his duty 
to give his only daughter a guardian and female com- 
panion, he said that he thought himself able to be the 
guardian of his daughter, and that he did not wish to 
place her under any authority but his own. And he 
became indeed the companion of his only child. The 
union between father and daughter was singularly 
free, unreserved, and beautiful. 

Some anecdotes remain of Dr. Stevens, that are as 
characteristic of the manners of a century ago, as of 
the individuality of his character. The meeting-house 
and parsonage on Kittery Point, upon the northeastern 
shore, at the mouth of the Piscataqua, have an aspect 

* Mr. Ellery, of Newport, grandfather of Dr. Charming, married a 
sister of Mrs. Stevens. Dr. Channing and Joseph Stevens Buckmin- 
ster were second-cousins. 


and situation which in summer cannot be surpassed 
for beauty and variety of scenery, but in winter are 
bleak and exposed to storms, and at times the river 
must have been almost impassable. Tradition informs 
us, that, after he was somewhat advanced in years, 
and consequently not very well able to bear the cold, 
he would remain in the parsonage on a stormy Sab- 
bath morning in the winter till the bell had tolled 
some time, and then he would send his servant Sambo 
into the meeting-house with the message, that, if 
there were but seven hearers assembled, 'massa' in- 
vited them to come into his parlor, and he would 
preach to them there ; but if there were upwards of 
seven, he would go to the meeting-house. He would 
then enter, with his outside garment tied closely 
around his waist with a silk handkerchief, as no fires 
were then kept in the places of worship, and thus 
protected from the cold, he would go through the 

He used to ride on horseback in the winter, accou- 
tred in the same manner, and carry relief to the tem- 
poral wants of the poor and sick, as well as spiritual 
instruction to all whom he could reach. He was inti- 
mately acquainted with every member of his parish, 
man, woman, and child ; and although his meeting- 
house was usually well filled in good weather, and 
very often crowded, he could tell who were missing, 
and if places were vacant on a pleasant Sabbath, he 
was sure to be out on horseback very early on Mon- 
day morning to visit the absentees. Few, very few, 
ever put him to the trouble of going to see them two 
Mondays in succession. 

Sambo, the black servant already mentioned, was 


the factotum in his master's small family, and very 
fond of a practical joke. One summer's day, when 
one of the clerical brethren came to visit his master, 
Sambo tethered the horse so near to the rocks in the 
pasture that the poor beast could get but a very scanty 
meal. When reproved by his master for his inhospi- 
tality, he replied. 'Massa tell Sambo that the nearer 
the bone the sweeter the meat, and Sambo thought 
that the nearer the rock the sweeter the grass.' Even 
without, this anecdote we should infer that Dr. Ste- 
vens, although extremely liberal and charitable, con- 
ducted his affairs with shrewdness and economy ; for 
out of a small salary he was able to lay by some thou- 
sands of dollars, and at his death he was esteemed rich. 
Dr. Stevens's intimacy with the Pepperells brought 
upon him the suspicion of inclining to the mother 
country at the approach of the contest with her colo- 
nies. After the death of President Hoi yoke of Har- 
vard University, in 1769, ' the minister of Kittery/ 
says Hutchinson, 'would have had the voice of the 
people as a candidate for the presidency if his political 
principles had not been a bar.' * An anecdote often 
related indicates his political bias. Upon one occa- 
sion, when he was preaching in Portsmouth, a gentle- 
man named Blunt had a son to be baptized, and the 
ordinance, according to the custom of that day, was 
to take place immediately after the sermon. In the 
discourse, which was somewhat political, Oliver Crom- 
well was mentioned, and 'soundly berated.' At the 
close, the parents and child were called for, and the 
father, when requested to give the name, suppressed 

* Hutchinson's History of Massachusetts, Vol. III. p. 262. 


the one previously selected, and called out in a voice 
loud enough to be heard by the whole congregation, 
' Oliver Cromwell,' and by that name the child was 

That, when the contest was finally decided upon, 
Dr. Stevens took the part of the colonies, is apparent 
from all his subsequent history. He never lost in the 
smallest degree the respect and affection of his own 
parish or of the country. His death took place in 
1791. An aged woman now living relates, that at 
his funeral the shore of the beautiful point was lined 
with boats, and the meeting-house crowded to over- 
flowing with a weeping multitude. Another aged 
person says, that, to the day of his death, he was an 
early riser ; that being employed at work opposite the 
parsonage the year of his death, the first person he 
saw on every summer morning was Dr. Stevens, at 
his study window, with his book in his hand, just as 
the sun was rising. 

The writer, some years ago, met with a singular 
proof of the whimsical idea Dr. Stevens's parishioners 
entertained of his great learning. Passing in a small 
boat over the river to the 'Point,' an ancient boat- 
man who was no bad representative of Charon him- 
self, sat at the helm, and paddled the boat across. 
Being asked if he remembered Dr. Stevens, — 'Re- 
member him, indeed!' he answered; 'he not only 
baptized, but he married me also. Ah ! ' he said, 'he 
was a prodigiously learned man, and never spoke 
except in Greek and Hebrew.' 

While the French fleet were stationed in the har- 
bor near by, during the war, the officers were much 
in the habit of enjoying the hospitality of Dr. Ste- 


vens's parsonage, and this vicinity came very near to 
depriving him of his only daughter. The father of 
an only child could not consent to her leaving him 
for a distant country, and the decision of the father 
was unquestioned by the daughter. 

The experiment of educating his daughter himself, 
and carrying her through the years of youth without 
female companionship, was eminently successful, if 
we may rely upon the testimony of all who knew 
her. She went to no dame's school, to no school 
whatever, and, except in visits made to her mother's 
relations, her father was her sole companion, and her 
instructor in English literature, — for female educa- 
tion in those days went no further, — and the relation 
between them was as unreserved as it was singular 
and beautiful. A contemporary, now eighty-eight 
years old, writes, — 'Sarah Stevens was quoted as a 
model of perfection by all who knew her.' Only a 
few years ago, the aged inhabitants of Kittery de- 
lighted to describe her to the writer as she remained 
in their memory in her riding-habit — or Joseph, as it 
was then called — and beaver hat, as she rode by her 
father's side when he made his parochial visits, and 
the very chair she sat in has been fondly pointed out. 
Traces, too, of her cultivating hand remain in the 
very shrubbery that shaded her window, while all 
else is desolate about the parsonage. 

With extreme natural sensibility, the seclusion and 
the romantic scenery in which she lived were calcu- 
lated to develop the imagination, and to give a senti- 
mental turn to her thoughts, which was checked by 
the stern good sense of the father. Her letters show 
that she sometimes pined under her extreme solitude, 



when winter storms lashed into foam the river that 
divided them from all society, and no boat could pass 
to their secluded dwelling. Dr. Stevens was furnished 
with resources for a winter's day such as few of his 
brethren possessed, in the library, splendid for those 
times, which was left him by Sir William Pepperell. 
The books were mostly English editions of the very 
best authors. At his own death, he bequeathed them 
for the use of the ministers of York and Kittery. 

The first letter written after her marriage, at the 
first separation from her husband, shows the extreme 
tenderness of her attachment to him. He was absent 
on an exchange with Dr. Morse of Charlestown. 

4 1 have retired to my chamber, but my spirits are so sunk 
by the absence of my dearest friend, that I cannot think of 
going to bed, and will try by this imaginary conversation, 
by the aid of the pen, to banish the gloom for a few 
minutes. Indeed, my friend, I hardly ever felt more 
unhappy than I have this day; and although 1 have attended 
meeting both parts of the day, my wandering mind, 1 fear, 
was more employed upon an earthly object that was absent, 
than engaged in the service of a heavenly Friend who is 
always present. Mr. Morse left me very soon after meet- 
ing ; since then I have wandered from one room to another, 
but every where I miss my companion. I try to reason with 
myself; I endeavor to suppress my regrets and to be happy, 
but as yet my efforts are vain. O my friend, if I cannot 
bear a separation for a few days, how should I live if I 
should see you no more ? I sometimes fear that, for an 
undue attachment to an earthly object, I may be reminded 
of its sinfulness by having it taken from me ; but God 
grant that so severe an affliction may not be necessary for 


1 Monday Night. — One more day has passed without my 
beloved friend. I would not send this letter if I could not 
tell you that I have felt less unhappy than I did yesterday. 
It is not that I have thought less of you, but I have schooled 
myself to be more reconciled to your absence. Miss A. 
has passed the day with me, and I would not have any one 
a witness to my grief; to none but my beloved companion 

could I confess it About two o'clock we had a 

very severe storm of wind, rain, and thunder. The former 
made great devastation among the trees in the neighbor- 
hood. Our little garden, which I dare say you have 
thought of, has suffered less than could have been expected ; 
some things are laid low, but your beans, I am thankful to 
find, still keep their place, or rather climb higher every 
hour. This will reach you just after Commencement. I 
hope you have enjoyed the day, and that its fatigue has not 
been too much for you. I trust it has been every way 
agreeable, and that every thing will tend to your happiness 
while absent.' 

At the end of the first year of her marriage, a little 
daughter was born, that died a short time after its 
birth. The mother expresses her resignation in a 
letter to her father : — 

4 Heaven saw best to disappoint our hopes by taking the 
life of our little girl ; I could have wished that it might 
have been spared, but it was undoubtedly best for us, as 
well as for the babe, that it was not, therefore I am resigned 
and contented. I have great reason to be thankful that my 
own life was spared. I enjoy many more blessings than 
I deserve. My lot is a most blessed one, and I wish I 
may not be wanting in gratitude to the Giver of all my 

Within the eight short years that this grateful and 


loving woman formed the domestic happiness of Dr. 
Buckminster, she became the mother of four children. 
The second child and only son, Joseph, was six years 
old at her death. It is easy to see how much influ- 
ence such a mother must have had upon her son. 
Her life was spared long enough for her maternal 
love to make those impressions on his susceptible 
mind, that most deeply and permanently stamp the 
future character. That she lived long enough to reap 
the fruit of her care in the promise of most gracious 
dispositions in her son, appears from an authentic an- 
ecdote, related by his father only a short time before 
his own death. 

When Joseph was between five and six years old, 
his parents left home on a journey for a few weeks, 
and his father, when he took leave of the boy, said, 
rather jestingly, — ' Well, my son, you must have an 
eye to the family while I am absent, and see that 
every thing goes on in its accustomed regularity,' 
— never suspecting the extent to which his suggestion 
would be acted upon. Joseph accordingly, as soon as 
the hours of school were over, repaired to his father's 
study, and spent the time alone with the books ; and 
when the hour for the morning or evening devotions 
of the family arrived, he rang the bell, and, in his 
sweet, childish voice, summoned the inmates of the 
house to prayers. He read a chapter, with the com- 
mentary, as usual, and concluded with a short prayer ; 
and this with so much gravity and solemnity, that, 
instead of any approach to levity in the servants, they 
were impressed with deep seriousness, and one of 
them was greatly affected. This was not done once 


or twice, but continued, with unabated reverence, 
during the absence of his parents. * 

The mother consecrated her son to God upon her 
death-bed, and expressed the hope, that, if his life 
were spared, he would become a minister. No doubt 
he would have followed his own inclination in the 
choice of a profession, but it seems early to have been 
the decided bent of his character, as will afterwards 

The letters of his mother that have been preserved 
breathe the utmost tenderness of devotion to her 
husband and children, and gratitude for a happiness 
seldom the lot of mortals. It is not strange, then, that 
on her dying bed she should have uttered the words, 
— - l Father ! the cup cannot pass away. I must drink 
it ! Thy will be done ! ' The contemporary quoted 
above adds, ' No one ever lived more beloved, or died 
more lamented.' 

It is a touching anecdote, related by the same 
authority, of the aged father, Dr. Stevens, when his 
daughter was lying within a few days of her death, 
riding many miles in search of a plant that he had 
heard was a specific in complaints of the lungs. Fond 
affection clings to the frailest support, and finds food 
for hope where others find only despair. He survived 
his daughter only ten months. It was said that Dr. 
Stevens's death was occasioned by taking cold at the 
funeral of a parishioner ; but those who knew him 
intimately said that he never was himself after the 

* The writer would add, that this anecdote had always been tradi- 
tionary in the family j but that it is inserted here upon the authority 
of Mr. Dana, of Marblehead, to whom Dr. Buckminster related it a 
short time before his death. 



death of his child. The tears that flowed then were 
not the most bitter that have been shed on her grave. 
When God, in his holy and mysterious Providence, 
takes a mother from her infant children, the loss is 
the most irreparable to those most insensible to its 
magnitude. Theirs is a twofold loss, — bereft of the 
remembrance, as well as of the possession of a moth- 
er's love. She died July 17th, 1790. 

It was not surprising that the wreck of Dr. Buck- 
minster's domestic joys, after only eight years of hap- 
piness, left as he was with three motherless children, 
should have brought back the nervous distress to 
which, from constitutional temperament, he was easily 
subjected. At this period of his life he kept a diary, 
consisting, however, almost entirely of spiritual* exer- 
cises and experiences ; of records of a sense of 
sinfulness, aggravated by a morbid and exaggerated 

Into the sacred records of the conflicts of the soul, 
when overwhelmed with nervous distress, the eye of 
a child has hardly dared to penetrate, much less to 
reveal them to the unsympathizing scrutiny of those 
who differ from him in religious views, or to the 
approving gaze of that portion of Christians who 
consider them as the necessary accompaniment of 
the conversion of the soul to God. 

His nervous disease, which is now far better under- 
stood than at that time, ever took the form of exag- 
gerated conscientiousness, melancholy apprehensions 
about the religious state of his friends, and of his 
own religious condition and safety. The morbid and 
diseased state of his health induced constant iteration 
of the fear, that he had sinned beyond the reach of 


mercy ; that his ministry had been only a hypocritical 
exercise of sinful or insincere experiments, and that 
he had ruined all with whom he had ever been con- 

The above-mentioned journal was soon after dis- 
continued, and the writer has heard her father, later 
in life, remark, that he considered such records as 
delusive representations of the state of the religious 
affections, eminently calculated to produce self-decep- 
tion, misleading the writer into exaggerated ideas of 
the evil in the heart ; while, on the other hand, by 
recording transient emotions and elevated devotional 
feeling, a too exalted state is induced, in danger of 
leading to spiritual pride and to false security. 

During the last illness and death of his wife, this 
diary contains scarcely a record, except of the alter- 
nate feeling of hope and of despair produced in his 
own mind as the slight variations of better and worse 
in the delusive malady of consumption took place. 
And when there was no more hope, all other records 
were wiped away, and she alone 'lived in the book, 
and in the volume of the brain, the tablets of the 

In this season of his affliction, October 18th, 1790, 
he was chosen Professor of Theology of Phillips 
Exeter Academy, the trustees of this richly endowed 
institution having then the intention of making it 
more of a school of theology than appears to have 
been the object of the founder. Sympathizing friends 
urged his acceptance of this office, hoping that change 
of scene and occupation would heal the deep wounds 
of an afflictive Providence. But he was now firmly 
rooted in the affections of his people in Portsmouth, 


and decided to remain among them ; and, indeed, no 
other sphere of usefulness could have been half so 
appropriate. From the time of his affliction, his peo- 
ple observed in him, if it were possible, an increase of 
spirituality and fervor in the work of his ministry. 
He was in labors more abundant, anxious, 'to spend 
and be spent in his Master's service.' To quote the 
words of another, ' He loved the work of his Divine 
Lord and Master above every thing else, and nothing 
gave him so much joy as to be able to win souls to 
Christ. There was a wonderful pathos in his suppli- 
cations to the throne of Divine grace, and a wonderful 
variety and pertinence in all his professional services. 
At the communion-table, in the chamber of sickness, 
in the house of mourning, and at the grave, his ad- 
dresses were extremely appropriate, tender, and deeply 

It is said in the Life of Dr. D wight,* that an emi- 
nent civilian, hearing Mr. Buckminster pray, after the 
death of General Washington, remarked, that Mr. 
Buckminster deserved no credit for that prayer, for it 
was the effect of immediate Divine inspiration. Such 
an impression was often left by his occasional ser- 
vices ; but his prayers were only the fruit of a devout 
heart. They breathed a spirit of ardent piety. They 
were evidence that 'human wants and human sor- 
rows, the dangers which encompass the Christian's 
course, and the conflicts to which goodness is ex- 
posed, were subjects of his habitual thought.' He 
considered devotion as the life of Christian goodness, 
and, to promote it in his parish, he appointed two 

* Sparks's Biography, Life of President Dwight, by W. B. Sprague. 


evenings in the week for private meetings with two 
different classes of his people ; the sisters of the church, 
and the young people, who were prompted by an in- 
terest in religion to seek counsel of their pastor. 

In the year 1793, Mr. Buckminster gave a mother 
to his bereaved children, by marrying Mary Lyman, 
the daughter of Rev. Isaac Lyman of York, and sister 
of the late Theodore Lyman, Esq., of Boston. With 
a disposition eminently cheerful, and a heart entirely 
devoted to domestic joys and interests, — as a fond 
mother, and a careful guardian of all that could con- 
stitute the charm of home, — she made him eminently 
happy in this connection. While she enjoyed health, 
and indeed while she lived, although cares pressed 
and children multiplied, his cheerfulness never failed. 
He had no attack of nervous disease, and but a mo- 
mentary depression of spirits. 

In the last century, the salaries of ministers were 
very small, at least in all places except that which 
has been called the paradise of their order, Boston. 
Mr. Buckminster's society at Portsmouth was as lib- 
eral as any other there, but his salary was not sufficient 
to spare the pastor from those anxieties and cares which 
are peculiarly wearing to generous and refined natures. 
He was extremely generous in his disposition, and 
hospitable in his habits, and would gladly have had 
all his brethren at his frugal table. His settlement 
was upon the value of wheat and Indian corn, and 
varied extremely in different years ; but never did the 
amount, I think, exceed six or seven hundred dollars. 
With these rather limited means, it was a fixed prin- 
ciple with him never to owe any thing. He never 
allowed himself to purchase a thing for which he 


could not pay upon the spot, denying himself and 
family rather than incur a debt. 

Providence richly endowed him with what has been 
called the minister's blessing, children. His quiver 
was full of them, and the olive-branches grew thick 
around his table, upon which, as may be supposed, 
the meal was simple and frugal, and the elastic cord 
of means needed to be stretched to the utmost to 
make both the ends meet around a year's expenses. 
He suffered much domestic grief in the loss of many 
lovely children, who were taken away at the most 
attractive period of life, — at the ages of one and two 
years; and the tenderness of his nature was deeply 
touched at such losses. Five of his twelve children 
died in infancy. 





Joseph Stevens, the eldest son of Dr. Buckmin- 
ster, was born May 26th, 1784. It has been men- 
tioned in the last chapter, that his mother on her 
death-bed prayed that her son might be devoted to 
the church ; for this purpose both parents took the 
greatest delight in cultivating his mind, — a mind, 
too, of such early promise, as almost from infancy 
gave indication of its excellence. I quote the letter 
of his eldest sister : * — 

i I do not know how soon my brother was able to read ; 
but at four years old be began to study the Latin Grammar, 
and had so great a desire to learn the Greek also, that my 
father, to please him, taught him to read a chapter in the 
Greek Testament by pronouncing to him the words. As 
early as this he evinced that love for books and ardent 
thirst for knowledge which he possessed through life. He 
was seldom willing, while a child, to leave his books for 
any amusement ; my father was so much afraid that close 
application would injure his health, that he used to reward 
him for playing with boys of his own age, and would go 
with him to persuade him by example to take part in their 

* Afterwards the wife of John Farrar, Hollis Professor of Mathe- 
matics in Harvard University. 


sports, I have no recollection that, when we were children, 
he ever did any thing wrong. He had always the same 
open, candid disposition that marked his manhood, nor can 
I recollect any time when I did not feel perfect confidence 
that whatever he did was right. From the time he was five 
till he was seven years old, it was his practice to call the 
domestics together on Sabbath mornings, and read to them 
one of my father's manuscript sermons, repeat the Lord's 
Prayer, and sing a hymn ; and he performed the service 
with such earnestness, that he was always listened to with 
attention. I have heard my dear father say that he never 
knew him to tell an untruth, or to prevaricate in the least. 
Indeed, there was always something about him that gained 
the love of all who knew him.' 

But though the nature of the boy was most docile, 
rich, and promising, the history of his short life will 
show that it was not genius alone that made him so 
early eminent ; that it was to his father's extraordinary 
care and watchfulness that he was indebted for the 
early excellence of his character ; and, further, that 
there was nothing precocious in his mind. Every 
thing that he was and did was the natural fruit of 
previous sowing, watering, culture ; so that, had he 
lived, what he had already accomplished would have 
been regarded by him but as immature and imperfect, 
— marking only an epoch in a development of his 
mind that would still have gone on in continual 

Still, the temperament of his youthful mind seems 
to have been of that elastic and buoyant character, 
which no kind of education could have depressed or 
confined. A gentle docility, a serene gayety, was 
ever the character of his disposition. This shone 
always in his countenance, and was apparent in the 


freedom of all his bearing. He was, too, in his boy- 
hood, eminently handsome. The open brow, shaded 
with chestnut curls, and the beautiful hazel eyes, 
attracted the attention of strangers who met him in 
the street ; and, in one instance, a gentleman and 
lady, travellers, passing through Portsmouth, charmed 
by his beautiful countenance, followed him to his 
home, and made the singular request to be permitted 
to adopt him as their own son. 

Thus girt round with all domestic, all religious in- 
fluences, — all obedience upon one side, all watchful 
care upon the other, — it seems as though it would 
be impossible for the young feet to stray, or the young 
heart to throb with any but peaceful wishes ; and 
with so docile a nature as Joseph's, all went well. 
But in the stoical homes of our Puritan childhood, 
free-will was too much restrained ; the 'child was 
subjected to the bonds of a too strict obedience ; the 
struggle of even innocent desires with the Puritan 
ideas of parental authority planted many a cypress- 
tree in the young heart, under whose shade perished 
the opening buds and beautiful flowers of joy. It 
may be a question hard to decide, whether is more 
conducive to the happiuess of the whole of life, the 
former iron-bound obedience, or the present unlimited 
indulgence. If it be true, as Goethe in all the calm 
sincerity of a life of great experiences asserts, that 
< only with renunciation can life, properly speaking, 
be said to begin,' then the earlier and the more com- 
plete the self-denial in the first years of life, the more 
prepared will the child be for happiness and for duty. 
But when we reflect how small is the portion of hap- 
piness that sometimes comes to dwell in the same 



heart in after life, is it not unjust to abridge the inno- 
cent, joys of childhood? 

' Since sorrow never comes too late, 
And happiness two swiftly flies, 
No more ; — where ignorance is bliss, 
'Tis folly to be wise.' 

Of youthful, or rather boyish friendships formed at 
this early period of my brother's life, I can remember 
only two. The participator of one of them, Jacob 
Pickering, Esq., of Portsmouth, yet survives. The 
object of the other youthful attachment was a very 
promising lad, of the same age, George M. Sheafe, the 
son of James Sheafe, of Portsmouth. The two friends 
entered Exeter Academy together, were classmates at 
college, and the early death of Sheafe, at the age of 
nineteen, was deeply regretted by his young friend. 
His letters, in the round hand of a school-boy, were 
all carefully preserved. 

Till the age of ten, Joseph remained at the gram- 
mar school in Portsmouth, taught by Mr. Amos 
Tappan, who married Dr. Buckminster's sister, and 
who was brother of Rev. David Tappan, Professor of 
Divinity at Harvard University. It was now neces- 
sary that he should enter a higher school. Phillips 
Exeter Academy then, as now, enjoyed a reputation 
second to none in the country. It was under the 
instruction of that most excellent man and renowned 
instructer, Mr. Benjamin Abbot. It is to be regretted 
that no history of Exeter Academy has ever been 
written. Probably more distinguished men have 
been educated at that school, and have been bene- 
fited by the instruction of its distinguished preceptor, 
than at any other in the United States. 

4 OLD HANNAH.' 75 

Few anecdotes remain of my brother's boyhood, 
and at the distance of half a century there is no possi- 
bility of collecting more. Nearly all are dead who 
witnessed the early unfolding of this bud of promise. 
His eldest sister could remember his childhood, but the 
present writer was too young to recollect any thing 
of him before he went to college. She was not then 
seven years old, and even the vacations that brought 
him under the paternal roof have left only a faint 
impression. It is remarkable that his father never, in 
a letter or in any other way, gave the least indication 
that he was impressed by the extraordinary unfolding 
of his son's character. His early excellence seems to 
have been expected, as a matter of course, and only 
the natural result of extraordinary care. 

There were two persons witnesses of his childish 
attractions, 'who kept all these things in their hearts,' 
and, had they lived, would have preserved rich stores 
of anecdote. One was an old domestic, who had lived 
with his mother, and remained the faithful nurse of 
her children till their father married again. She loved 
them all, but Joseph was her idol. She had no power 
of expressing her love and admiration, and until he 
was grown to man's estate, whenever ' Old Hannah ' 
met him, she threw her arms around him, and kissed 
him on each side of the face, and on his forehead and 
lips. She always found out when he was expected 
at his father's house, and, dressing herself in her old- 
fashioned suit, preserved with the greatest care for 
Sundays and for this occasion, she was on the spot 
to greet her darling with tears and smiles and inar- 
ticulate joy. 

The other was an aunt, the sister of his father, 


already mentioned, — a most noble-hearted, excellent 
woman, a strict Calvinist, whose creed was sadly at 
variance with her warm heart. She maintained, in 
conversation, that every little son and daughter of 
Adam was the subject of sin and of correction before 
they were nine months old, and in theory she was a 
great friend to the rod ; but she always said that 
she could find nothing wrong in Joseph, and never 
punished him. She was childless, but her house was 
never without two or three orphan children ; and she 
became so indulgent in practice, that her last adopted 
child would have been utterly spoiled, had she been 
susceptible of spoiling. 

My brother entered Exeter Academy in the autumn 
of the year 1795, having completed his eleventh year 
the preceding May. The letters of the father to the 
son while at Exeter were preserved with the utmost 
carefulness by the boy. Every trivial scrap, even on 
half a leaf of paper, was hoarded with a miser's care. 
They have been treated with like scrupulous respect, 
and, of the few introduced, not one word has been 
altered ; even the original punctuation has remained 
unchanged. The son's letters were also as carefully 
preserved for many years, but, with other family 
papers, were destroyed by accidental fire not many 
years ago. 

The first and second letters of the father are with- 
out date : — 

1 1 have in a sense but just left you, my dear son, but so 
great is my affection and concern for you, that 1 gladly 
embrace every opportunity of writing to you, and wish you 
may have a similar affection and concern for us. Your 


situation is such as I think must be agreeable and advan- 
tageous to you, and if you behave yourself well, with the 
smiles of Providence, you will be respected and happy. 
I am pleased to see your respectful and manly behavior 
in the family ; continue to do so, and especially at any 
time in the absence of Mr. and Mrs. Rowland ; never do 
any thing because they are gone which you would not do 
if they were at home ; nor do any thing of which you 
would be ashamed, because you think you can keep it 
secret ; such conduct discovers a little and base mind. If 
you accidentally do any mischief, (and I hope you will 
never do any with design,) do not endeavor to hide, but 
acknowledge it, and be sorry. Cultivate a sincere respect 
for your instructers, and never cherish prejudices against 
them. Instructers, who are entitled to the respect of their 
pupils, love those that respect them. I have borrowed a 
Sallust for you from Judge Parker. Take especial care of 
borrowed books. 

' Do not study too hard, so as to injure your eyes, and 
do not be too anxious about acquitting yourself: be easy 
and contented in yourself: fear God, and pray to him. Be 
respectful and kind to all men, and be not too forward in 
the company of your superiors. Be swift to hear, but slow 
to speak. 

' We have a smart shower upon us, and in our anxiety 
fear you will get wet. Be careful, lest you should be 
again seized with the rheumatism. We all love you and 
long to hear from you. Your sisters, though they, poor 
girls, cannot write,* will be glad to have a little letter from 

I would not swell these pages with all the father's 
letters to the son, of which one was written every 
week during his residence at Exeter Academy. But 

# His sisters were of the ages of eight and five. 



it must be recollected that the boy was only eleven 
years old, and I shall select only such passages as 
show with what minute care and tender solicitude 
his every footstep was followed by the anxious 

4 Your letter, my dear son, was received with pleasure, 
as all your letters are ; but the pleasure in this case 
was a little heightened by inclosing your first attempt at 
composition, with a request that I would mention such 
corrections as might be made in it. It is very well, I think, 
for the first attempt. I do not discover any grammatical 
inaccuracies, which are very common in juvenile produc- 
tions, but there is a little inaccuracy in saying " these are 
the consequences," when you have mentioned but one real 

' The great art of composition is to write easily and 
intelligibly ; perspicuity is the first thing in writing ; if a 
person find that his meaning is obscure, he may be sure 
there is some defect in the attempt. You must not be 
grieved if at first your preceptor blots your pieces with 
corrections ; there is nothing attained without labor and 
care, and it is a happiness to have an able and faithful 
friend who will correct our blunders. 

' I am glad to find you disposed to get forward in your 
studies, but you must take care of your health, and 
remember that we are not scholars in proportion to what 
we run over, but in proportion to what we understand and 
make our own. I have known some boys that have only 
studied one Evangelist, better Grecians than others who 
have run over the whole Greek Testament. You will 
follow your preceptor's directions ; but I wish you now, 
while you are so young, principally to attend to the 

' And now, my dear son, I must repeat my admonitions 
and exhortations to you, to abhor that which is evil, and 


cleave to that which is good. It is a critical and important 
season with you. O, be watchful against forming any 
vicious habits ; resist the first beginnings of temptation. 
Fear the great name of the Lord your God, and do not 
allow yourself to use it profanely upon any occasion 
whatever, nor make those your companions who do ; keep 
yourself pure ; never allow impure thoughts to enter your 
mind, or impure words to come from your lips. You have 
written so well against falsehood, that I hope you will never 
contradict your first attempt at composition in your practice. 
Treat all your superiors with respect, especially Madam 
Phillips, [the widow of the founder of the Academy,] and 
be obliging to her in little things as well as great, and be 
always forward to oblige. Observe the Sabbath in public 
and in private, and let no morning nor evening pass without 
committing yourself to God, for his protection and blessing. 
If we lie down or rise up without thanking him for the 
protection of the night, or for the mercies of the day, 
we should not wonder if his blessing is withdrawn from 

4 1 say not these things to grieve you, but as my beloved 
son I warn you, and because I love you I admonish and 
exhort you, and wish you to be amiable, and virtuous, and 

It must be recollected, in reading the next letter, 
that the boy was only eleven years of age. 

1 January 5th, 1796. 

1 My dear Son, — We are always glad to receive letters 
from you, whether their contents be more or less interesting, 
as they are pledges in some sort for your good behavior. 
Children can have no friends so nearly interested in their 
welfare as their parents, and they should treat them with 
openness and filial confidence, and in every interesting 
matter seek their advice and direction ; while a child 


governs himself by principle and acts with discretion, he 
will have nothing to conceal from a kind parent. But 
when he means to give himself up to the guidance of 
passion instead of reason, he must seek other advisers than ' 
parents, and his intercourse with them will be timid and 
reserved. I hope, my son, you will never get into the way 
of reserve with your parents, nor expose yourself to the 
bitter reflections of your own mind : young people may 
find the young who will flatter their passions, and give 
them advice that may be more congenial to their feelings, 
but nature directs children to their parents for counsel. 
You know, in Scripture history, how badly it fared with 
Solomon for forsaking; the counsel of the old man and 
following the advice of the young. You will find some 
persons who are profane, some who are obscene in their 
discourse, some that ridicule all religion, and some who 
have no principle of any kind. I hope, my son, you will 
be on your guard not to be corrupted by any of them ; the 
worst of them esteem those more highly whom they cannot 
corrupt, although they may affect to ridicule them ; and the 
estimation of one virtuous man, which is secured by good 
principle and conduct, is of more value than the pretended 
estimation of a thousand of the profane. 

' I send you Xenophon's Cyropeedia ; you must use it 
with care, as I hope you will all your books, but especially 
borrowed ones. A soiled book is a suspicious indication 
of an idle scholar. I have never read " The Retreat of 
the Ten Thousand." It is a matter of indifference to me 
what particular books you study, provided they be such as 
are calculated to forward you in the object of all learning, 
to be useful in life ; this should be our object, my son, to be 
useful to our fellow-men. As to the course of your studies, 
I wish you to be directed by your preceptor. 

1 We thank you for your wishes for a happy year, and 
all of us return them. That will be a happy year, my dear 
son, that is spent in a faithful attendance upon duty, and in 
the love and fear of God.' 


' August, 1796. 

4 My dear Son, — I was glad to hear by your letter that 
you were better than when you wrote before. I hope you 
will pay attention to your health, that you will take a due 
degree of moderate exercise, and be careful of being too 
long exposed to the evening air. But especially take care 
of the health of your mind ; keep yourself pure and indulge 
no impure imaginations, no impure talking or jesting. I 
hope God will bless you and make you a blessing. 

4 1 have some agreeable intelligence to communicate to 
you this morning. You are no longer, my dear, without a 
brother. Your mamma had a fine son born this morning. 
You will wish to come home and see the young stranger. 
He will be to you a younger brother. God grant that you 
may be to him an example of every thing that is good and 
lovely in his sight. 

'You must remember, my dear son, that although, 
through the advantages you have enjoyed, you have made 
tolerable proficiency in learning, yet that you are very 
young ; only a boy ; and that you must not consider 
yourself at your own disposal : you must be careful of the 
connections you form, and not think because a scholar is 
older than yourself, or even a man, that therefore you may 
intrust yourself to his disposal. Sometimes older scholars 
have been the unhappy instruments of ruining younger 
ones by poisoning their minds and corrupting their hearts. 
Fear God yourself, and be a companion of those who fear 
him; fear Him, my son, who seeth in secret, and from 
whom no darkness can conceal. Believe a father who 
loves you, the way to be comfortable and happy in life is 
to preserve a pure, open, and honest mind. 

4 1 send you herewith Priestley's Lectures on History 
and Policy, which your preceptor will direct you how to 
improve. You must be careful of it and not soil or deface 
it. A neat scholar is known by the appearance of his 


1 Be careful, my dear son, to cultivate the fear and love 
of God ; forget not to pray to him daily, and commit all 
you do to him. 

4 Your affectionate father, 


The reiterated charges of his father to preserve 
his books with extreme care were partly from the 
consideration that most of the books of his advanced 
studies were borrowed from friends. There were at 
this time no American editions of Cicero, Sallust, and 
Xenophon, and the English prints of classics were far 
beyond the means of expenditure of a clergyman of 
the day. The delicate boy was subjected to many 
hardships in consequence of his father's limited 
means. From Exeter, and a part of the way from 
Cambridge, he was obliged to walk to his home to 
save the expense of stage-hire. The absolute need 
of boots and shoes ; the necessity of having the 
discarded clothes of the father cut down to fit the 
son, and ' old ones made amaist as good as new ; ' all 
these petty material interests occupy many of the 
letters, and find a place in all. We cannot but feel 
a painful sympathy with the diligent boy, who, when 
he had saved all his pocket-money to buy a new pair 
of boots, finding it insufficient, was forced to have 
his old ones patched. 

My brother remained at Exeter Academy, under 
the instruction of Dr. Abbot, more than a year. He 
was so thoroughly prepared in the Latin and Greek 
Grammars under the instruction of his father, and 
that of Mr. Amos Tappan of the Portsmouth Gram- 
mar School, that he had no occasion to spend time 
upon them at the Academy. As he was only eleven 
years old, it may seem incredible to young persons, 


who at thai age are just beginning the laborious task 
of learning the grammars ; but it must be recollected 
that, from the testimony of his eldest sister, he began 
to study the Latin at four years of age, and the Greek 
nearly as early. His father in one of his letters 
advises him, if his class is ciphering, to go over again 
with them what he had previously learnt of arith- 
metic, but he usually directs him to pay his principal 
attention to the languages. It was not with him 
as it was with Dr. Johnson, who, when asked how he 
had acquired so accurate a knowledge of Latin, in 
which no man excelled him, answered that 'it was 
whipped into him.' My brother was never punished 
while he was at the Academy. A record remains, kept 
by himself, of the books he studied at Exeter. They 
were the Greek Testament, the Iliad, and Xenophon's 
Cyropsedia, Horace's Epistles, Sallust, and Cicero. 
There is still preserved his translation of Cicero's 
Amicitia, and of a part of Sallust, in the round hand 
of the school-boy, bearing the rare corrections of the 
instructer. In the last quarter that he remained, he 
reviewed the Greek Testament, Cicero, and Virgil, 
and read Livy's Roman History. He also studied 
Blair's Rhetoric, and Morse's larger Geography. 

He kept, also, a record of the books which he 
took out of the library of the Academy, for voluntary 
reading. The reading of a school-boy of eleven and 
twelve years may perhaps be interesting to those who 
are curious in the history of individual mind, and the 
writer may perhaps be excused for thinking that every 
thing is interesting in the formation of a mind so 
rare. The date is set down upon which every book 
is taken out and regularly returned. They were 
Rollin's Ancient History, 16 vols. 8vo ; The Life of 

84 Joseph's studies and readings. 

Cicero, 3 vols. 8vo ; Kennet's Roman Antiquities ; 
and D'Arnay's Private Life of the Romans. As books 
of amusement he has set down The Spectator, Moore's 
France, and Sir William Temple's Essays. He was 
fond of reading romances, but rarely indulged himself 
in so attractive a pastime. 

That he devoured books with the greatest avidity, 
appears from an anecdote which remains well attested 
in the family. In one of the vacations he had pro- 
cured Boswell's Life of Johnson, in a quarto volume. 
He was standing leaning upon the mantel-piece when 
he began to read, the book resting upon the shelf. So 
completely was he absorbed by that, to him, fasci- 
nating book, that he neither moved nor paused, even 
to eat, till he was wholly exhausted, and fainted from 
weariness. An anecdote of the same kind is told of 
himself by Mr. Webster, only the book that fascinated 
him so completely was Don Quixote ; he neither 
paused to eat or sleep, so great was the power of that 
remarkable book upon his attention, until he had 
finished the four volumes. 

It was fortunate for my brother that he was able in 
some degree to gratify his passion for reading in his 
father's house. Sir William Pepperell, as mentioned 
above, had left his library as a legacy to his grand- 
father Stevens. Dr. Stevens, at his death, bequeathed 
it for the use of the ministers of York and Kittery, 
but with directions that it should remain in possession 
of his son-in-law during his life, and then be for 
the perpetual use of the above-mentioned ministers. 
There were some hundreds of volumes. Among 
them were many valuable books, — Rapin's History 
of England in folio, with plates, a large collection of 
voyages and travels, the English classics, etc., etc. 


1796. At the Commencement at Cambridge, in 

Aged 12. I79t3 ? m y brother had passed his twelfth birth- 
day, and was wholly prepared to enter college ; but his 
father trembled to send him there while so young, 
and determined to hold him back a year, and then 
offer him in advance for the Sophomore class. At 
this time New Haven, endeared by old associations, 
by the long residence and the warm attachment of 
his father, was fixed upon as the college at which the 
son mnst receive his education ; and the great distance 
from Portsmouth increased the father's anxiety, and 
added its weight to the motives for keeping him back 
a year. In the mean time, the respective advantages 
presented by the two colleges were considerations of 
anxious solicitude and the subject of frequent debate. 
The father's fears of the influence of the liberal views 
of religion already suspected at Cambridge are express- 
ed in more than one letter. That the son's inclination 
was decidedly directed towards Harvard, appears from 
a letter written to a classmate who had left Exeter 
this year to enter that college. The letter is in a 
round, school-boy's hand, a close imitation of the 
copperplate copies for penmanship. 

'Exeter, Dec, 1796. 

4 Dear Friend, — I cannot let slip this favorable oppor- 
tunity of writing to you, although I have so lately enjoyed 
the pleasure of your company. I will now endeavor to 
avoid the charge of not performing my part of the corres- 
pondence. Did you arrive safe at Cambridge ? I should 
be sorry to hear that the surprising activity of your Canta- 
brigian nag failed him in performing the journey. 

1 1 fear, my friend, I shall be deprived of the happiness 
of residing at the same university with yourself The 



pleasure which I should enjoy in your company often rises 
to my view. I have remonstrated with my papa, but he 
thinks I shall enjoy greater advantages at the college for . 
which he designs me. All men are influenced in a greater 
or less degree by prejudice, and I should not wonder if you 
were to think he had an uncommonly great share of it. 
But of this I will not pretend to be a judge. 

1 My loss, occasioned by separation from you, has not yet 
been compensated. May you be always happy ! 

' Affectionately yours, 

« J. S. B.' 

That my brother's remonstrance did not amount to 
a very earnest opposition appears by a letter of the 
father, written ten days after this of the son to his 
young friend, in which he says to Joseph, — 'Your 
last letter to me is a very laconic exhibition of your 
feelings, which seem to be keen enough, respecting 
your going to New Haven.' 

In conformity to the strict obedience in which 
children were educated at that time, especially the 
unquestioning, unremonstrating subjection with which 
in our own family we were girt round and environed, 
probably no other word ever escaped the lips of the 
son, and I am unacquainted with the motives which at 
last determined his father to send him to Cambridge. 
Endowed as the son was with a joyous disposition 
and a serene temper, he probably would have gone 
with the utmost cheerfulness to New Haven. His 
delight is warmly expressed in another letter to the 
same friend, because he is not to be separated from 
the friendships he had formed at Exeter, but would 
enter with some of his fellow-students at Cambridge 
at the next Commencement. 




1797. At the Commencement of 1797, Joseph 

Aged 13. was admitted, one year in advance, to Har- 
vard University. Upon which occasion the father's 
letters are again introduced. 

' Portsmouth, Aug. 10th, 1797. 

1 My dear Son, — I hope by this time you begin to feel 
yourself a little familiarized to college and its customs, and 
that many of the things about which you were anxious 
cease to be subjects of anxiety. I left you rather abruptly, 
and I suppose, to you, unexpectedly, but I feared you 
would be more affected by a formal parting than by finding 
me gone without it. 

1 You are now placed in a situation, my son, in which 
you must exercise care for yourself and the things you 
have with you, without depending upon others. You have 
hitherto boarded in a family where you have had kind 
female care ; you must now take that care yourself. Keep 
every thing in order ; your clothes in their place, your 
books in their place, and be not in so much of a hurry as 
to leave them in confusion and disorder. Lock your trunk 
and your study, when you go out. Make a little paper 
book and put down all your expenses. You must bear half 
the expenses of the room, such as candles, etc. I suppose 
it will be customary to have some wine in your room, to 
offer to strangers. I hope it is not the custom to offer 


scholars or classmates wine when they call ; but when a 
gentleman or friend from out of town calls, it will be 
necessary. You appear to have a prudent, worthy, and 
manly chum ; who will, I hope, not impose upon your 
youth, but guide and direct you ; cherish confidence in him 
if you find him deserving, and avoid the beginning of any 
prejudice or dissension. 1 would not have you mean, nor 
profuse ; but entirely just in your part of the expenses. 

' Do not be imposed upon. Carry little money about 
with you.* Always remember to wash in the morning, 
oftener if need be. Comb your hair every day. Endeavor 
to keep your clothes neat and tidy. When your clothes are 
returned from the wash, put them smoothly in your trunk 
and make a memorandum of them. 

' With respect to study, you will in the first place make 
yourself a thorough master of your recitations, and of the 
lessons assigned you. The time that you do not want for 
your recitations, this year, devote to Hebrew and French. 
Mr. Pearson is a good man, notwithstanding the prejudices 
against him, and will be glad to see you often, and to give 
you any assistance you may want. Do not be absent from 
prayers or recitations for trifling causes. Never join in 
any disorders that idle youths may commence. Study to 
deserve the esteem and respect of the deserving part of 
college. Never be out late at night, and spend not much 
time in playing on the flute. Do not play in study-hours, 
and play-hours will be better used in exercise, vigorous 
exercise, — walking and playing ball. Call frequently upon 
the Professors, and go very often to see your dear mother's 
friend, Mrs. Dana. 

4 Remember the advantages of the Sabbath when prop- 
erly used. If your eyes do not fail, it will be a good habit 
to read the Bible in Greek, especially the New Testament, 
on the Sabbath. 

# This advice seems almost superfluous, as I suppose the boy 
never had more than five dollars at one time. 


* I have been thus particular because you have never 
been so alone, and I think my counsels may be of service 
to you. I place confidence in you, my son, and hope as 
you have begun you will go on to perfection, and not disap- 
point the hopes and expectations of your friends. 

1 1 have received the letter you wrote the day I left you. 
I do not recollect any thing to add, except to repeat the 
advice, and beg you to be a man. Command your feel- 
ings and don't cry at corrections that may be suggested 
to you at recitations, nor act as though unwilling to receive 

It must be recollected that the boy is only thirteen 
years old, when his father advises him not to cry at 
being corrected. The quick sensibility that in boy- 
hood showed itself in involuntary tears was never 
wholly conquered ; when not exhibited by tears, it 
often subjected him to unkind remarks from older 
and more self-possessed characters. 

A week only passed, and the counsels and advice 
were reiterated. 

1 August 30th, 1797. 

'My dear Son, — I received your letter by Monday's 
mail with a great deal of pleasure, and hope before this 
you have received one from me that was written imme- 
diately after my return home, containing a great variety 
of directions upon matters that to you may appear small, 
but their influence is great ; and you must be willing to 
have line upon line and precept upon precept ; receive 
them with the docility of a dutiful child from an affectionate 
and solicitous parent. You have no one to take care of 
you but yourself. ,Let me have confidence in you, that 
you will keep yourself out of danger and temptation, and 
your study and appendages free from confusion. Keep 
your person and clothes in order and clean ; put every 



thing in its place and have a place for every thing. I am 
sorry you had to lay out so much for books ; for I hoped 
the money I left with you would do something towards 
defravincr necessary bills that misfht arise. However, vou 
are not to be stingy of necessary expenses, though your 
father is a poor man. Pay your full share ; only be careful 
of your money and keep an exact account. 

' Do not forget regular, manly exercise. I am glad to 
find you are attempting both Hebrew and French. You 
will overtake your class in a very little time, for you learn 
languages easily. If you do not get some knowledge of 
Hebrew now, it is not probable you will ever attain it ; and 
if your heart should be devoted to the profession, which, 
though not highly esteemed by men, is yet the most benevo- 
lent and honorable, you may find it of great advantage to 

1 1 am glad to hear that you are pleased with your chum. 
I believe him to be a deserving young fellow ; but you must 
not have too sudden or unbounded confidence in any one. 
Form rules and principles for yourself that may be sup- 
ported by reason and revelation, and do not depart from 
them through fear of ridicule nor hope of obtaining favor 
from any one. Keep yourself pure. Treat all your fellow- 
students with respect and friendship, but do not feel as if 
your happiness depended upon the favor of any one, nor 
your misery upon any thing but the reproaches of con- 
science. Always treat the government with respect and 
attention. Never imbibe prejudices against any of them, 
nor join in any cabals against them. Never he an informer, 
but be equally careful not to be a supporter or encourager 
of any designs against the governors or governed. 

i Take care of yourself, my dear son, and be a good 

' September 10th, 1797. 

4 My dear Son, — The receipt of your letter by Monday's 
post gave us all pleasure, as it indicated your greater ease 


and enjoyment in your present situation. You are, I am 
sensible, the youngest boy in your class, but you must 
remember that you have enjoyed great advantages, and that 
wisdom is not measured by years, but by the opportunities 
we have had of acquiring it ; yet the recollection of your 
youth should make you modest and willing to bear the 
repetition of my advice : yet I hope it will be needless ; as 
you will form yourself to careful habits, and will sometimes 
refresh your memory by perusing the letters I have sent 

c I am sorry you find it difficult to pursue the study of 
both Hebrew and French, and conclude you intend to 
relinquish one of them. To direct your determination, let 
me suggest to you that this will probably be the only time 
you will have to acquire any knowledge of Hebrew, which 
is of some importance if you should choose one of the 
professions for life ; you may have another opportunity to 
get a knowledge of French ; besides, they are steady lads 
who apply themselves to Hebrew, and I did wish you to 
associate and assimilate with such. Take these things into 
consideration, my son, and then judge which language to 
relinquish if you relinquish either. 

1 If you knew how much we feel interested in you and 
your welfare, you would never be at a loss as to what to 
write to us. The most trifling circumstances, such as going 
to bed, and getting up in the morning, washing hands, 
combing hair, and brushing clothes, derive an importance 
from their relation to those we love. You say little in your 
letters about your chum. I hope you live together in 
harmony and love, in mutual confidence and friendship, and 
that you are guardians and helpmeets to each other in your 
collegiate connection. 

4 How do you succeed in getting up for prayers ? If 
possible, avoid being frequently upon the monitor's bill. 
Cherish a respect for the authorities of college, whatever 
you may hear said about them by idle or dissipated youth. 


You may be sure they are men of respectability, or they 
would never have been in the places they are ; treat them 
yourself with submission, and a proper respect, due as 
much to yourself as to them. Do not feel an unwillingness 
to be corrected in your recitations, nor show the superficial 
coxcombry that is said to belong to the Sophomore year. 
Do not be difficult as to commons. Take care of yourself, 
my dear boy, and of every thing that relates to you. 

4 Your affectionate father, 

'November, 1797. 

' We are disappointed, my dear son, in not receiving a 
line from you to let us know how you succeeded in your 
return to Cambridge. We hope well, and that you are 
again settled in the routine of study and recitation. You 
must not be grieved nor surprised at my repeating my 
cautions, reiterating my counsels, to take care of yourself, 
— of your health, comforts, and morals. You may, per- 
haps, be more in danger this term than the last. You are 
more accustomed to college life, and may have less timidity 
and more confidence in yourself. Form to yourself general 
rules and principles of good behavior, that you may have 
them to govern you in particular cases and emergencies ; 
and be not betrayed by unforeseen events into faults or 
errors, in consequence of not thinking. Let the virtuous 
and discreet be your chosen companions, and if you are 
constrained to be with others, let a manly dignity and pro- 
priety mark your conduct and be a silent reproof of theirs. 

' If you must at times hear the authorities of college 
reviled and ridiculed, take no part in the ungrateful merri- 
ment ; or at least, do nothing to add to the piquancy or 
amount of it. Keep yourself pure, my son, in these your 
years at college, and remember that God is the inspector 
of your public and private conduct, and knows your most 
secret thoughts and actions. Resolve not upon any thing 


of consequence, without making it the subject at least of 
one night's sleep, and one evening's prayer. Govern 
yourself, my son, by principles, and attach yourself to 
them rather than to men. Approve what is excellent in 
all, and what is otherwise in none. 

' You tell us you spent Thanksgiving at Waltham. We 
thought you would, and are glad of it. When gentlemen 
of distinction invite you to their houses, I hope you behave 
with modesty and propriety, — that you are not forward to 
speak or to give your opinions unasked. Mr. Lyman, 
when he was here, expressed an interest in you and wished 
you to visit him often. I am willing that you should walk 
up to Waltham some Saturday afternoon, and return to 
Cambridge Monday morning. Follow the maternal advice 
of Mrs. L. You are young, my dear son, too young to be 
at your own disposal, placed at a distance from your natural 
guardians, from the friends that are most sincerely and 
tenderly interested in your prosperity and welfare ; you 
are exposed to temptations, and may be surrounded by 
those that seek to ensnare rather than to guard and guide 
you ; and though we have confidence in you, that we trust 
will never be disappointed, we cannot but be jealous over 
you and anxious for you. Remember, my son, you are 
passing through a very critical period of life. Cherish the 
fear of God, and commit yourself daily to his care and 
keeping. Respect yourself. Do nothing in secret or in 
company that will make you ashamed of yourself. Be 
governed by principle, and not by caprice. Dare to stand 
by, and do, and say that which is right, though you should 
stand alone ; and if sinners entice thee, consent thou not ; 
if they ridicule you, bear their ridicule manfully, covered 
in your conscious integrity ; thus you will have peace of 
mind, the approbation of the wise and good, protection 
from above, — and the love of your affectionate father, 



' June 16th, 1798. 

' My dear Son, I believe I said nothing to you 

in my last letter upon the subject of your giving up mathe- 
matics. I would not by any means have you do so. Study 
those and all other recitations as well as you can, and if 
you cannot distinguish yourself, yet something will remain 
that will be of advantage to you in your future life : 
besides, you must not imagine that you cannot distinguish 
yourself. You have been apt to think so in all the new 
studies that you have undertaken, and the very thought 
has a tendency to cramp your exertions and paralyze your 
efforts. A scholar or a soldier should think nothing beyond 
his reach, till he has made the most vigorous attacks. I 
hope you will not get into a discouraged frame of mind 
about your studies, nor from that, or any other cause, grow 
negligent about them. 

' I feel anxious for you, my son, and would do every 
thing in my power for your good. If you should deviate 
from the paths of virtue, and become an immoral youth, 
you would hasten my gray hairs, and bring them down 
with sorrow to the grave. I beg you would cherish the 
fear of God, and a sense of your accountableness to him, 
and forget not to pray to him daily. You must not follow 
the great or the many to do evil, nor take your estimate 
of things from the practices of men, but from the unerring 
rule of God's word. May God bless you, my son, and 
sanctify you. May he keep you from the snares of youth, 
and the lusts that war against the soul. Be no stranger to 
your closet, but with filial love and trust commend yourself 
to God, for his guidance and blessing. 

4 Your affectionate father, 

' J. Buckminster.' 

From the foregoing letters it would appear that the 
father was not aware of the most serious dangers that 
menaced his son in his college life, which, from some 


disclosures lately made, arose from the skepticism 
then prevailing in the college, — from the unsettling 
of the faith of every rank in society, through the 
prevalence of the influences of the French Revolution. 
The old foundations of society were shaken, all rever- 
ence for antiquity and for social order and religious 
faith nearly destroyed. 

Whoever has read Judge Story's graphic descrip- 
tion of the college, and of the student's life there, in 
the recently published Memoirs of Dr. Channing, 
will be aware of the influences that surrounded this 
youngest son of Alma Mater. My brother was just 
four years younger than Dr. Channing, and two years 
after him in college. He was even smaller and more 
youthful in his appearance than his distinguished 
relative, and all the influence that he could have 
acquired must have been purely intellectual. He 
entered the Sophomore class, and was only one year 
in college with Channing, and was probably wholly 
unknown to him except through the medium of 
Washington Allston, the friend of both and the class- 
mate of Buckminster. 

He was a member of the principal college clubs, — 
the Phi Beta, the Hasty Pudding, and the Adelphi, 
before which last he delivered an address in his Senior 
year, ' Upon the Benefits of Diversity in Religious 
Opinions.' His rank as a scholar will be indicated to 
those who are acquainted with the principles by which 
college honors are awarded, by those that he received. 
At the November exhibition of the Junior year, he 
had part in a forensic assigned him ; in the succeed- 
ing June exhibition, an English oration j ' and the 
second part in rank, but the first in interest,' at the 
Commencement when he graduated. 


It was in college that he acquired a passionate love 
of Shakspeare, and it was during the winter of his 
Senior year that Cook was performing his principal 
characters at the Boston Theatre. Joseph resisted 
every allurement of youthful pleasure, but he could 
not deny himself that which was to him the highest 
intellectual treat. He walked frequently of an evening 
into Boston, went to the theatre, and walked out asain 
at midnight over the scarcely completed road leading 
to West Boston Bridge, often with the snow and mud 
far above his ancles.* 

He was not so entirely cut off from all social influ- 
ences while in college as is the case with youths less 
fortunate in friends. From Mrs. Dana, the relative of 
his mother, and her family, he received the kindest 
welcome at his weekly visit, which his father exacted 
from him. I use that word because, to the diffidence 
and bashfulness of boys of his age, social visiting is 
always a severe trial. And to the kindness and con- 
descension of that excellent family he was indebted 
for a cordial welcome, that removed the barriers 
between youth and age, and made his intercourse 
with them easy and delightful. 

His father also required him, once in each term, to 
call upon the several college professors, Pearson, 
Tappan, and Webber. These visits, although, from 
obedience to his father, punctually paid, appear from 
his letters to have been regarded with great repug- 

The son had now entered upon his second year at 
Cambridge, and the letters are much less minute in 

* It should be observed, that the law requiring the undergraduates 
to abstain from theatrical amusements was not then in operation. 


their advice. He seems to have obtained the entire 
confidence of his father. The only difficulty was 
that of meeting the expenses of a college life. The 
frugal boy is still obliged to walk a part of the way 
to meet the stage on his journeys to and from Cam- 
bridge, and every letter contains advice to save and 
take care of his clothes. 

1798. 4 1 send you inclosed a three-dollar bill, which 
I hope, with what money you have, will be sufficient to pay 
all necessary expenses till you get home. Your dress will 
do well enough for exhibition. I hope you will command 
attention by something better at that time than your dress. 

c There are many clubs plausible in their institution, that 
are prejudicial in their operation and consequences. I 
know not of what kind those are of which you are a 
member, but I know no club which ought at college to be 
very expensive to the members, nor can they be beneficial 
if they are so, for they must exclude the poor scholars, 
who are usually the best.' 

' March 18th, 1799. 

4 My dear Son, — I have been much more remiss in 
writing to you this term than I intended or approve ; it is 
not that I am less anxious or concerned about you than 
I used to be, nor that I love you less ; but being immersed 
in various cares and attentions besides that of my ministry, 
I can hardly find time for writing. I hope you continue 
to behave well, preserving yourself free from all those 
practices which offend God and wound the conscience of 
the unhardened sinner. It is my heart's desire and prayer 
to God for you that you may be saved, and in order to this, 
that you may be made to see your need of salvation, and 
behold Jesus Christ as the author of it, committing yourself 
into his hands to be sanctified in the name of the Lord 
Jesus, and by the Spirit of God. You are entering upon 



the stage of life, not merely in days of great license of 
practice, but in great prevalence of infidelity. To despise 
and reject revelation, not so much by attempting to disprove 
it by argument as to drive it away by wit and ridicule, is 
now the fashion, and you will meet with many men of this 
stamp in your literary and social interviews with those who 
may be such fools as to wish there were no God. But 
though you may not feel able or willing to oppose their 
raillery, I pray you to clasp firmer the hope of sinners in 
Jesus Christ. You have known the Scriptures from your 
youth ; I hope you have sometimes felt their power to assist 
and comfort. 

6 1 do not mean to give you in letters the evidences of a 
revelation ; but no tolerable account can be given for the 
origin and existence of such books as the Gospels but their 
being the communication of Jesus Christ to men, and a still 
less tolerable one can be given of the present existence of 
the Christian Church in the world. Hold fast your integrity 
and your love of God, and believe that they who honor 
him he will honor, and they who despise him he will lightly 

' The name of vour new little sister is Olivia. You ask 


to spend next vacation at Mr. Freeman's. If your clothes 
did not render it necessary for you to come home, I should 
be willing you should spend one week at Judge Dana's, and 
one week at Mr. Freeman's ; but we shall be glad to see 
you at home. 

1 Your affectionate father.' 

' May, 1799. 

4 My dear Son, — Your letter and its contents came safe 
to hand by Friday night's mail, from which I conclude you 
got safely and agreeably to Cambridge, and found all things 
well. You seem to be concerned for my health, and inquire 
anxiously about my sufferings from the disease with which 
I was threatened when you left home. I write sooner than 


I otherwise should, because I can tell you that, after a week 
of considerable pain, I am now pretty well, and have gone 
through the labors of this Messed day with less fatigue than 
usual. I am glad to see you anxious for your friends, and 
to enter with feeling into their circumstances, and I hope 
you will cherish and cultivate a filial and fraternal spirit 
more and more. You have parents that love you and are 
deeply concerned for you, and you have sisters that love 
you, and are deserving of your love ; and though, from 
Providential circumstances, you have run farther before 
them in the race of knowledge than you have of years, 
yet you should cherish an esteem and affection for them, 
and do what in you lies to make them feel the distance 
less, and love the brother more. It is good and pleasant 
for brethren and sisters to dwell together in unity, and to 
be strangers to the passions of envy or contempt, or the 
emotions that border on such passions. An elder brother 
distinguished by advantages should be a mentor to the little 
circle of home, and bear and cover the weakness and 
infirmities of those who are accidentally less informed 
than he. 

4 1 do not say these things, my son, from an apprehension 
of any especial need of such caution in your case with 
respect to your dear sisters, much less to criminate or 
reproach, but they are thoughts that may deserve your 
consideration and render you more useful and happy. 

4 1 have suggested that I was pleased at your anxiety 
for my health, and desire to do every thing to contribute to 
my relief; but you must remember that, however dear or 
necessary I may be to my children, I am mortal. Lean 
upon no parent's arm that must be confined to Portsmouth 
while you are at Cambridge, or who, however warm his 
affection and ardent his wishes, is weak, erring, and mortal. 
Put your trust in God, who is unchangeably the same, 
every where present, and able to do exceeding abundantly 
for us. The revelation of his will, and our duty, is sup- 


ported by evidence that has proved satisfactory to some of 
the greatest and the wisest of our race, who were accus- 
tomed not to believe without evidence. Let me exhort you, 
my dear son, to make this revelation your counsellor, and 
you will find it a light to your feet and a lamp to your 
path. , 

1 From some remarks you made while you were at home, 
and the interest they had in your feelings, I feared you 
were in danger of the fashionable folly of placing reason 
before revelation. Be on your guard, my son, and let 
a thus saith the Lord, or a plain Scripture declaration, 
silence your objections and satisfy the craving of your 
mind, — and 

" Where you can't unriddle, learn to trust." 

4 Take care of your clothes, your health, your morals, 

your soul ! 

4 Your affectionate father.' 

The caution to his son in his last letter, not to 
despise the ignorance of his sisters, would have been 
necessary to a brother less considerate and affection- 
ate ; for however devoted Dr. Buckminster was to 
the best interests of all his children, he certainly 
cherished the Old Testament or Hebrew ideas of the 
greater importance of the culture of the male than 
the female intellect, which was the prevailing senti- 
ment of Puritan New England. Every faculty of 
the sons of clergymen must be cultivated, for they, 
perhaps, would be shining lights in the candlestick 
of the Church ; but the daughters, they were only 
helps, meet for man. The whole amount of a 
woman's learning was but enough to enable her to 
read and spell the English language, and to keep the 
family accounts. Reading was taught well to every 


one of his family by the practice of reading the Bible 
morning and evening at family prayers, each person, 
beginning with himself, reading two verses in suc- 
cession. The servants were not exempted from this 
custom, and every boy and girl admitted to service in 
the family learned, at least, the art of reading well. 

From the prevailing notions which preceded and 
reached almost to the time of which I write, the 
female mind of New England was left almost wholly 
without culture. The daughters of clergymen had 
some little chance of intellectual improvement, by 
living more in the presence of books, and having 
occasional intercourse with the learned of the time ; 
but that only increased the embarrassing peculiarity 
of their position. A country minister stands upon 
almost the lowest step of social life, in regard to the 
pecuniary means of intellectual culture ; but in intel- 
lectual endowment, cultivated manners, and social 
influences, he must stand with the highest, and hold 
intercourse with the most cultivated. His family 
must share his position, whatever it is, and his 
daughters must form tastes for refinement, for intel- 
lectual intercourse, and for cultivated society, which 
the total want of pecuniary means prevents them 
afterwards, as our society is constituted, from enjoy- 
ing. And only in peculiar and fortunate cases are 
they able to indulge the tastes they have too early 

The wholly secluded education that Dr. Buck- 
minster gave his daughters might have arisen from 
such considerations. Although he was active and 
instrumental in establishing better schools for girls in 
Portsmouth, he did not allow his daughters to go to 



them, nor to associate much with society of their 
own age. Perhaps some lingering fondness for the 
kind of education their mother had enjoyed remained 
in his mind, and he might have hoped to reproduce a 
likeness to her in his daughters. But the cloistered 
retirement of her children was not peaceful, like hers. 
However nun-like their seclusion, it was not for the 
purpose of reading or praying ; it was filled with 
domestic duties and the care of younger children. 
Book-learning was the last necessity ; they had far 
other and humbler duties to learn, and to perform. 
With an invalid wife and a small salary, the moments 
for indulging a studious taste in his daughters were 
few and far between, and for the most part stolen. 
Such a family was indeed a school for learning the 
humble and passive virtues. Patience, industry, and 
carefulness were all taught, but a knowledge of the 
world wholly excluded. Happy was it for him that 
they learned contentment in their frugal, stoical home, 
when, only a few years after, these elder daughters 
were left, by the death of his wife, the guardians of 
his comfort, and the mothers of his younger children. 
There was then full use for the knowledge that could 
not have been found in grammars and dictionaries ; 
and the very small portion of elementary instruction 
they had received in the learning usually taught in 
schools served only to stimulate their exertions, in 
after life, to acquire what had been denied to their 
younger years. 

My brother had now entered upon his Senior year, 
and his father had acquired so much confidence in 
him, that his letters had become much less frequent. 


'July, 1799. 

4 From what cause it arises I cannot say, but I have never 
been so concerned about you, my dear son, since you went 
from home, as I have this term of your absence. Scarce a 
night passes but I am perplexed and troubled in my sleep 
by some of the troubles and difficulties in which you are 
involved. I hope it is not an intimation that you are 
becoming less careful and regular in your conduct, or less 
watchful ag-ainst the seductions of the world. You are 
passing through a period of life that will probably give the 
complexion to the whole of your future life. O my son, 
be watchful and prudent, preserving an ever-living con- 
sciousness of the Divine omniscience and omnipresence. 
I hope you will continue to deserve the good opinion of the 
government of the College, and pay them all due respect. 
I know they are the friends of the Alumni, and you will 
one day think so. 

4 You propose hiring a horse sometimes to ride, lest you 
should forget your riding. I would observe to you, that it 
is a kind of knowledge not easily forgotten, and you cannot 
hire a horse at Cambridge without considerable expense. 
If you ride out in company, you will be in danger of meet- 
ing with accidents. 1 do not forbid your riding, but I advise 
you to be sparing of this amusement. I hope you will 
continue to be steady, uniform, and studious, and improve 
the little remaining time you may have at Cambridge in 
endeavoring to carry yourself forward in preparation for 
usefulness in your future life. Be virtuous, wise, and 

1 1 fear it will be too much for you to think of walking 
all the way home. If you will come to Newbury, and if I 
can possibly leave home, I will come in the chaise for you ; 
but you must let me hear from you again before vacation. 
I am sorry you are not disposed to write more particularly 
to your best friend. 


* We all send vou a caution not to be too venturesome 
because you have a little knowledge of horsemanship. 

4 Your affectionate father, 

'J. B.' 

The anxiety of Dr. Buckminster during the whole 
of his son's course through college was so extreme, 
and his charges to the boy to keep himself pure from 
youthful vices so often reiterated, that they may, to 
some minds, imply a more than usual distrust of the 
purity and integrity of his son. It can be explained 
without casting a shadow of suspicion upon the 
ingenuous boy. 

It may be recollected that it was observed, in the 
early part of this work, that Yale College, while 
my father was there, was particularly open to the 
charge of indifference to religious and moral observ- 
ances ; and added to his own recollections of college 
life were fears arising from the tender age of his son, 
and the danger of his being influenced by the example 
of the older students. It was, too, the habit of his 
mind, arising probably from his religious creed and 
the high ideal standard he had formed for them, to 
doubt the strength of principle of his own children. 
While his parental expectations demanded every thing 
from them, his religious creed forbade him to hope for 
any thing but a natural amiableness, which, in the 
view of his creed, was of no value. The writer does 
not recollect a single instance of commendation of 
Joseph or of his elder children. He became more 
indulgent as he advanced in life, and his younger 
motherless children called forth all his tenderness. 

My brother had now entered upon his last term ; the 
time drew nigh when he must leave college, and his 


father began to feel anxiety about his future course. 
He had just completed his sixteenth year. He was 
very small and youthful in his appearance. Schools 
were offered to him in various country places, but his 
youth and still more youthful stature — he looked 
scarcely more than twelve — made his father un- 
willing that he should enter upon school-keeping as 
the head and sole master. The place of usher to Mr. 
Hunt in the Boston Latin School was proposed to 
him, by friends in Boston, as an eligible situation. 

1 June, 1800. 

1 My dear Son, — I have this" day received your letter, 
and am glad you were disposed to enter so fully into your 
feelings and wishes, to your best friend. Respecting the 
principal subject of your letter, the disposal of yourself 
after you leave college, I scarcely know what to write to 
you. There are many things in the situation you propose 
that would be doubtless agreeable, if you could be placed 
in it, and they would not be unprofitable nor dangerous 
to a person of more years and experience, of established 
principles, confirmed habits, and pious affections ; — such 
as the diversity of amusements, the variety of character and 
company, the floods of books, the proximity to Cambridge, 
etc., etc. But I feel a little anxious lest they should be 
ensnaring to you, and a means of blighting the seed which 
I hope is springing up to a respectable harvest in your 
future life. The theatre has infatuating charms to a lively 
imagination ; the company of the dissipated, both male 
and female, is seductive to those who have not closed their 
teens. You have four years, my son, before that period 

4 If you should ever know the heart of a parent, you will 
know it cannot cease to fear. Parents are ready to say, 
" We have you in our hearts to live and to die for you," 


and often afterwards strange changes take place in the 
feelings and conduct of their children. 

' If I were sure you would have virtue and firmness to 
withstand the temptations that would assail you in Boston, 
and prudence and piety enough to choose the company of 
the wise, and wisdom enough to improve the advantages 
you would find there, I should more readily consent to your 
being there than any where else. Ask the opinion of judi- 
cious friends. Converse freely and independently with Mr. 

1 The part assigned to you at Commencement is, I con- 
clude, agreeable to you. If a subject is not given to you, 
you must endeavor to fix upon one that will suit your taste 
and years, and multum in parvo must be your study. 

1 We all love you, — your father dearly. 

'June 16, 1800. 

' Mr dear Son, Mr. Abbot says it would be very 

agreeable to him to have you with him in the Academy, 
if there should be an opening there. I do not altogether 
like the situation in the Boston school. Mr. Hunt would 
probably often be absent, and the government, as well as 
the instruction, fall upon the usher. The salary at Boston 
may sound great, but the expense of board and other 
expenses of living would leave you but a small dividend 
at the end of the year, I imagine. You had better lie upon 
your oars, and wait for the opening of Providence, than to 
be precipitate. Behave yourself well, and you will find 
employment. I doubt not Providence will provide kindly 
and generously for you, if you wait filially upon the God 
of Providence. 

4 It is a little unexpected to be called upon for money. 
I fear the advantages of your societies will not pay the 
expense of meeting. The extra expenses of your family 
exceed mine. I inclose five dollars, of which, and all 
others, I hope you will be able to give a good account. 


4 Let your last weeks at College, my son, be your best ; 
such as you can look back upon in future with unmixed 

4 Your affectionate father.' 

My brother's course through college had been marked 
with extreme industry, and the most careful regard to 
the regulations and laws of the place. Of this it may 
be sufficient to remark, that he never incurred any 
college censure, and was not even fined till the last 
term of the Senior year. He preserved his themes 
and exercises, in number thirty-two. Many of them 
are humorous, a few poetical ; but the marked pro- 
gress in excellence from the first to the last is very 
striking, showing how much he was indebted to 
careful culture. 

I am happy to be able to add to this account of his 
college life the testimony of a valued friend and class- 
mate, the Rev. Charles Lowell, one among the very 
small number of that class who have survived to the 
present time. 

4 1 first saw Mr. Buckminster in the summer of 1797, 
when we were examined together, with three others, for 
admission to the Sophomore class of Harvard College. He 
was then but a little more than thirteen years old ; a boy, 
with a sweet countenance, whose every lineament was 
stamped with genius and intelligence, — in age a boy, but 
in intellect and learning mature far beyond his years. I 
was myself but little older, yet I well remember his exami- 
nation, and, as well, that none excelled him. One incident 
that I have not forgotten, though it is nearly half a century 
since, indicated the keenness of his sensibility, and the 
laudable ambition to excel which never left him. He 
had some hesitation in answering one of the questions 


propounded to him, — I feel assured it was but one, — and 
he burst into tears. One of the professors — it was Dr. 
Pearson — kindly came to him, reassured him, and told 
him he had no cause to be troubled. 

1 Thus commencing his college course, standing in the 
first rank, he sustained that rank unwaveringly to the end. 
As a classical scholar he had no superior, if, indeed, he had 
a rival. As a belles-lettres scholar he was unequalled. " In 
rhetoric and composition," one of his classmates writes me, 
" I do not hesitate to say that he had the best taste and tact 
of any in the class, and which even existed when we first 
began our exercises in English composition ; and I think 
he had more uniformly the marks of approbation from the 
professor than any other. He was the best reader, and, in 
my opinion, the best declaimer, in the class." " He was 
decidedly," he further says, " a hard student, and a great 
general reader. He was well read in history and geogra- 
phy, and in the periodical works of English literature." 

1 In the exact sciences and metaphysics, his immature 
age, or a want of taste for them, prevented his acquiring 
the same distinction ; though another classmate tells me that 
he recollects the surprise he felt at Buckminster's recitations 
in Euclid. He could not understand how one so young 
could demonstrate problems so difficult. But the truth was, 
he had extraordinary powers, and his conscientiousness, as 
well as his ambition and love of learning, led him to task 
those powers to the utmost. He studied hard ; he was 
faithful, and never, I am confident, went into a recitation 
without doing all, in the preparation, that he was able to do. 

4 If he were equalled or excelled in mathematics or 
metaphysics, yet, take him for all in all, I have no hesita- 
tion in saying he stood preeminent, — the admiration and 
pride of his classmates. He was much noticed by distin- 
guished scholars in the upper classes, and was fond of their 
intercourse. The attentions of the late Judge Story to him 
are particularly remembered. 


1 In his disposition he was social, but it never led him 
into any excesses. He had a fine taste in music, and " his 
flute and his song," as well as his conversation, are spoken 
of by a classmate with much enthusiasm, and must be well 
remembered by all who survive him. 

4 He had strong feelings and predilections, it may be 
strong prejudices. He was frank and open as the day, 
expressing his sense of what he deemed censurable some- 
times warmly and very independently, but never, I think, 
with harshness. He escaped college censures, not because 
he courted popularity with his instructors, or descended to 
what was mean and dishonorable, but because he did 
his duty. Consecrated to God from his birth, and early 
intended for the Christian ministry, he was never forgetful, 
as I believe, of his high destination. His fidelity and 
diligence in his studies were not more remarkable than his 
exalted moral purity.' 

Another classmate says : — 

1 Buckminster had strong feelings, prejudices, and predi- 
lections, and indulged both his likes and dislikes to a great 
degree ; but on the subject of the latter he was prudent, 
and seldom gave way to vituperation. But he was so 
young in college, and was so interesting in his person, that 
there was a species of halo that surrounded his character, 
so that most of us were carried to a degree of enthusiasm in 
our admiration of him, and we were hardly willing to make 
a candid comparison of him with others. 

' With respect to his tastes, I well remember that he 
was very fond of Shakspeare and the drama, and a visit to 
the theatre was the greatest gratification he could receive. 
I do not think his argumentative powers were of the highest 
order ; nor that he was fond of engaging in discussions of 
that nature.' 



Another gentleman, afterwards an intimate friend,* 
speaks thus of his first appearance at college : — 

' I well remember his first appearance at an exhibition in 
his Junior year. His extreme youth, and the spirit and 
talent and gracefulness of the performance, excited much 

4 I was in the President's study when he sent for him to 
announce to him his part for Commencement. He seemed 
much surprised, burst into tears, and said he should never 
be able to do it well. The good Dr. Willard, with the most 
benign countenance, replied, in his homely way, " If the 
government, Buckminster, did not think you would do it 
well, and do credit both to yourself and to the College, they 
would not have given you this honorable part." ' 

The quick sensibility, which uttered itself so often 
in his early youth in a spontaneous burst of tears, 
became, after he was able to conquer its outward 
expression, an extremely attractive feature in his 
character. It appeared in an intuitive perception of 
the feelings of others, and an eager sympathy, which 
made him enter with zeal into all objects of benevo- 
lent action. But I think it may be said that he was 
never rash or precipitate. He united in a remarkable 
degree quickness of feeling with thoughtfulness and 
deliberation of judgment. He early adopted his 
mother's habit of not finally deciding upon any thing 
that deeply affected his feelings, till after he had made 
it the companion of his pillow. 

It indicates the public sentiment of the college, 
when we observe that the exhibition oration upon 
Enthusiasm is almost wholly confined to military 

# William Wells, Esq , of Cambridge. 


enthusiasm, deprecating the example of France, in 
which he uses this metaphor : — ' Like the lovely 
form of Apega, a single embrace of Prance discloses 
the dagger in her breast.' The subject of the Com- 
mencement oration, ' The Literary Character of Differ- 
ent Nations,' was too comprehensive for the limited 
portion of time necessarily allowed to one of many 
speakers. There are a few still alive who remember 
the impression he then made on the audience 'by 
his small, youthful figure, contrasted with the maturity 
and extent of his knowledge, the correctness as well 
as brilliancy of his imagination, and the propriety and 
grace of his elocution.' A short extract may be par- 
doned from this production of a boy of sixteen, as the 
literature of Germany was hardly then beginning to 
be known in this country. 

1 The literature of Germany is remarkable for its uni- 
versality. Exquisite poetic fictions, abstruse metaphysical 
disquisitions, mathematical subtilties, and all the graces of 
fine writing, flourish with exuberance amid the aristocracy 
of the German Empire. A host of illustrious names 
contend for the palm of excellence. Before the present 
century [the eighteenth] German literature was confined to 
theological wrangling, or to compilations from the works 
of others ; the wheels of literature moved heavily, but 
of late years they have rolled with such boldness and 
rapidity, that some Phaeton must have seized the reins. 

4 Italy ! There are the graves of great men ! Yes, 
where once the warm language of freedom breathed from 
the lips of the Gracchi, the poor Catholic now mumbles his 
Aves and Pater-Nosters. In that forum whose benches 
once were filled with venerable judges, whose walls once 
echoed the voice of Cicero, the owl now sits in judgment, 
and listens to the eloquence of the wind. The race of 


Italian litterati is nearly extinct. Like the mammoth of 
Indian tradition, they have traversed the Po, the Arno ; they 
have spread their mighty power over other countries, but in 
Italy their bones only are to be found at this day.' 

As he repeated these passages, his animated and 
beautiful countenance varied with every change of 
topic, which gave to it an eloquence it is impossible 
to forget ; and when he ceased, the applause came 
not alone from generous youths, but from grave and 
gray-headed men. 

It may seem almost impertinent to the reader to 
dwell thus upon the production of a youth of sixteen. 
We will close the account of his college life in the 
beautiful language of another : # — 'Amidst the temp- 
tations of the place, he gave an example of the possible 
connection of the most splendid genius with the most 
regular and persevering industry ; of a generous inde- 
pendence of character, with a perfect respect for the 
governors of the College ; of a keen relish for every 
innocent enjoyment, with a fixed dread of every 
shadow of vice. It may be said of him, as has been 
remarked of a kindred genius, f ' that he did not need 
the smart of guilt to make him virtuous, nor the 
regret of folly to make him wise.' 

* Thatcher's Memoir. f Pres. Kirkland, of Fisher Ames. 




1800. No arrangement could have been more agree- 
Aged 16. a bj e both t0 father and son than that by which 
Joseph was appointed Assistant in Exeter Academy. 
It was returning to his second home, almost again 
within sound of the parental voice, and to the family 
of Dr. Abbot, where there were friends who had cher- 
ished his tender boyhood, when, at eleven years old, 
he entered the Academy as a pupil, and who were 
now ready to encourage and strengthen and fortify 
his youth. He always looked back upon this period 
of his life as full of profitable instruction, rich in 
friendships, and filled with religious as well as literary 
associations. It was now, if at any one period more 
marked than another, that deep religious impressions 
were made upon his mind. He proposed to join his 
father's church, and was accepted, without any doubts 
of his father as to the sincerity or fitness of his pro- 

4 My dear Son, — I proposed your desire to join the 
Church the last Lord's day, and if you continue to wish to 
give in your name as a follower of Christ, and explicitly 
to confess him before men, the season for attending to the 
solemn transaction will be the Sabbath after next. The 
transaction you have in view, my dear son, is a solemn and 



interesting one, but it is a clearly incumbent duty, and 
therefore its solemnity ought not to discourage us from it, 
but only excite the most solicitous concern to perform it 
understandingly, sincerely, and with all our hearts. Give 
yourself up unreservedly to God through Christ, not only 
to be saved by him, but to be ruled by him and to be his 
subject and servant for ever ; relying upon the power of 
his grace and the promised influences of his spirit to perfect 
his whole work in your heart. Count the cost, consider 
the price, and be strong in the Lord, and in the power of 
his might. If he keep you, you will stand, — your own 
strength is weakness. Pray much, pray often, my son, and 
God be with you. 

' Your little brother was baptized last Sabbath, to whom 
we gave the name of William. It was a solemn and a 
joyful Sabbath.' * 

This is the only letter of the father's that remains 
during the period in which the son was Assistant at 
the Academy. My brother's proximity to Portsmouth, 
and very frequent visits to his family, enabled his 
father to remit that constant watchfulness of parental 
oversight. He had learned also to trust and confide. 
Confidence must be earned and won, even in the 
relation between father and son ; and the son had 
now won, by his lovely and obedient life, the full 
and perfect confidence of the anxious and perhaps too 
exacting father. 

Of many prayers preserved among the papers of the 
son, the following appears to have been written about 
this time. 

' O God ! pardon my foolish fears and my unreasonable 
desires. I have vainly regretted that which was not worthy 

* William died at the age of ten months. 


of remembrance, I have feared other evils than that moral 
evil which can alone injure an immortal soul. The external 
circumstances of my life I leave submissively at thy dis- 
posal, for thou knowest what is best for me, but I beseech 
thee earnestly for that wisdom which cometh from above. 
O God ! thou hast looked upon me from the throne of thy 
compassion, and the time was indeed a time of love. If 
the events of my life should be disastrous, if my existence 
should become every day less worthy of possession, if all 
the blessings that hold me to it should loosen and drop 
away, still the gift of Jesus, the hope of pardon and 
perfection, the least glimpse of immortality and of living 
in thy favor, would be themes of thankfulness which could 
never be exhausted. O God ! should I live, may I live 
to thee ; may I cherish every moment that passes, and 
consecrate it to thy honor and the service of my fellow- 
men. Assist me, unworthy as I am, in the performance of 
my daily duty. Strengthen my weakness ; enlighten my 
understanding ; direct my inquiries and awaken more and 
more my zeal in the search of truth. May the fear of 
man, of the honored and beloved, fade away before the 
love and search after truth, — thy truth, which is the most 
precious thing, the inestimable jewel, before which all other 
things grow dim and perish.' 

The personal recollections of the writer may now 
take the place of record and tradition. She was now 
old enough to be able to appreciate what she saw in 
her brother, and to recollect with distinctness the im- 
pression which his youthful person and his intellectual 
manliness made upon the circle of his friends. When 
the blessed day came round that brought him to the 
parental roof, there was seen a peculiar exhilaration, 
from the wrinkled visage of the old nurse, who caught 
him to her aged arms, to the smoothed brow of his 


father, to whom the presence of his son always 
brought the halcyon of peace. He never praised or 
flattered, or showed any undue partiality, but the 
mere presence of his son shed a tranquil satisfaction 
through the whole family ; and yet it was nothing 
that he said or did that diffused this spirit of content 
around. It is related of Silvio Pellico, that, when he 
merely walked through the wards of his prison, his 
presence was felt, by the instantaneous change in the 
aspect of the prisonres. The ferocious became human, 
the violent gentle, the melancholy smiled ; such was 
the power of a beautiful nature. In my brother it was 
the perfect freedom and fidelity of his manners to his 
feelings ; the transparency of thought, word, and 
deed ; we felt in the presence of a true being ; he 
seemed surrounded with that pure living ether, in 
which painters enshrine their Madonnas and Saints. 
There was such a peaceful unison in the beaming 
sweetness of his countenance and the unpretending 
gentleness of his demeanor, he seemed indeed an 
angel in disguise, come to diffuse a heavenly fra- 
grance over the homely and common cares of our 
e very-day life ; and if there was no pause in domestic 
duties there was a holiday in every heart. 

The reverence that he had for his father was not 
mingled with reserve and fear, as is apt to be the case 
in families educated under the severe Puritan rule ; 
there was something so genial, so joyous, in the 
son, that the veil fell from the father's mind in his 
presence, and they met as equal and confidential 

A young person who was much in the family at 
this time, surprised at the ease with which he laid 


aside the Puritan reserve of children towards their 
parents, exclaimed, on one occasion, \ Why, Joseph 
says any thing to his father.' And on the principle 
of saying any thing, when his father informed him of 
his intention of marrying for the third time, he an- 
swered, 'Why, papa,' for he always preserved this 
childlike appellation, c I believe you interpret the 
Apostle's injunction, to be the husband of one wife, 
as a command never to be without a wife.' His father 
smiled, and said he thought it a good interpretation. 

The distance in years, as well as in intellectual 
progress, between him and his younger sisters was too 
great for them to feel that familiar confidence with 
him that he so much desired. They looked up to 
him as to a superior being, while he made every 
effort to remove their timidity and to increase their 
confidence in his friendship and tenderness. Every 
thing that he left in his humble home when he went 
to Exeter was cherished with miserly care, — the 
simple drawings and prints that he pasted on the wall 
of his bedroom, the chest where he kept his boyish 
tools ; and even a small twig that he stuck into the 
soil, in a very inconvenient spot, was never allowed 
to be pulled up, and a large tree, only a few years 
ago, attested the careful affection with which 'Jo- 
seph's tree ' had been regarded. 

These months spent in the instruction of youth at 
the Academy he always regarded as of peculiar value, 
as leading him to review and fix in his mind his own 
early classical studies, and as giving him that accu- 
racy and readiness in elementary principles in which 
the preparatory schools of the country were at that 



time chiefly deficient. He often repeated, that he 
considered it a singular advantage to a young man to 
be able to fix that which he had himself just learned 
more firmly in his memory by teaching it to another ; 
thus deepening the first footprints of learning, before 
they were effaced by the successive tracks of other 

His extremely youthful appearance while a teacher 
must have presented a strong contrast to the young 
men, far older in face and limb, as they were in years, 
than their instructor ; and this gave him at first an 
embarrassment that appeared in real diffidence, and 
enhanced the youthfulness of his aspect. He was 
almost discouraged, as appears from one of his letters ; 
but he had already learned never to shrink from any 
duty that he had deliberately undertaken. 

At one time he had the honor and privilege of being 
the instructor of Daniel Webster.* Mr. Webster, in 
a private memoir of his early life, says, — ' My first 
lessons in Latin were recited to Joseph Stevens Buck- 
minster, at that time a pupil in the Academy. I made 
tolerable progress in all the branches I attended to 
under his instruction, but there was one thing I could 
no t do, — I could not make a declamation, I could not 
speak before the school. The kind and excellent 
Buckminster especially sought to persuade me to per- 
form the exercise of declamation like the other boys, 
but I could not do it. Many a piece did I commit to 
memory and rehearse in my own room, over and over 

* The time when my brother was the instructor of Mr. Webster, 
was in 1796, while he was yet a pupil in Exeter Academy. He was 
so far advanced in his studies, that ' the first lessons in Latin ' of Mr. 
Webster were recited to him. — e. b. l. 


again ; but when the day came, when the school col- 
lected, when my name was called, and I saw all eyes 
turned upon my seat, I could not raise myself from 
it. Sometimes the masters frowned, sometimes they 
smiled. Mr. Buckminster always pressed and en- 
treated, with the most winning kindness, that I would 
only venture once ; but I could not command sufficient 
resolution, and when the occasion was over I went 
home and wept bitter tears of mortification.' 

What interesting thoughts does this description 
excite, with all the gathered associations of so many 
years ! The youthful teacher winning the future 
statesman to exert that unsuspected power which has 
since had such wide-spread and powerful influence. 
Did he discern that noble intellect, that exalted 
genius, then concealed in the bashful reserve of his 
pupil? The sensibility that made Webster shrink 
from display would have indicated to a penetrating 
eye the hidden power ; and the persevering kindness 
with which the instructor urged again and again that 
he would only venture once, proves that he was con- 
scious there was much concealed that only needed 
encouragement to bring out and make him know his 
latent power. Mr. Webster was older than Back- 
minster. Had the teacher been permitted to live to 
observe the splendid career of the pupil, with what 
pride would he have looked back to the moment 
when his youthful voice soothed and encouraged the 
diffidence of one afterwards so eminent. 

As soon as Joseph was established in the Academy, 
he began the preparatory studies for the profession 
which seems from his earliest consciousness to have 


been his free, unbiased choice. The author of the 
beautiful memoir of him already quoted says: — 'The 
process of study and of thought through which he 
passed in forming his theological opinions cannot be 
too much praised. It is strange that a principle so 
natural and so constantly observed in all the other 
sciences, that of beginning with what is simple and 
clear, and gradually proceeding to that which is 
doubtful and dark, should have been so often reversed 
in the study of theology. He avoided as much as 
possible all the controverted doctrines of divinity, till 
he had given himself a thorough initiation into the 
evidences of religion, natural and revealed ; examined 
the nature and degree of the inspiration of the sacred 
writings, in order to determine what laws of inter- 
pretation are to be applied to them ; taken a general 
survey of the questions connected with the criticism 
of the Bible ; and sanctified all his investigations by 
the habitual study of the spirit of practical religion. 
Having by these inquiries, together with an accurate 
knowledge of the original languages, prepared himself 
for the interpretation of the more difficult and obscure 
parts of Scripture, he commenced the study of them 
with the aid derived from a comparison of the opin- 
ions of the best commentators, of different sects and 
opinions. He now permitted himself to consult the 
writers on dogmatic theology, and he has often told 
me with what eager curiosity, with what trembling 
interest, he read Taylor and Edwards on original sin, 
and pushed his researches into those higher specula- 
tions, where so much caution is necessary to prevent 
the mind from becoming enslaved to a peculiar sys- 
tem, and shut for ever against the light of truth.' 


There is a note among his manuscripts describing 
the manner in which he studied the Scriptures, which 
may be worth repeating. He began by the prelimi- 
nary questions relating to connection with other pas- 
sages ; the time and place and cause of the passage, 
and the circumstances of the people and nation. Then 
he compared the various readings and settled the mean- 
ing of the words as well as he was able, by accurate 
translation, division and punctuation. Then by phi- 
lological notes, concise and explanatory, and by com- 
paring commentators, he endeavored to educe the 
best meaning and the true doctrine. Lastly, he added 
practical and moral conclusions. 

The above is quoted as giving a comprehensive 
view of his method of study through the whole of 
his short life. At Exeter he was but just beginning. 
He had laid out a most extensive plan, which it 
would have taken a much longer life to complete. 
He thought himself but a beginner upon the outer 
threshold of knowledge, and the wide horizon con- 
stantly opening before him and constantly enlarging 
in advance of his eager footsteps. He began every 
study with a most devout and humble spirit ; and, of 
a very large number of prayers preserved among his 
papers, many have reference to and were written at 
the commencement of particular studies. Of the 
result of his conscientious application of his powers 
his sermons are now the only memorial, and it will be 
seen, as we go on with this memoir, what advance he 
made even in the short path he was permitted to travel. 

But his professional studies, although holding a high 
place in his esteem, were not allowed to encroach 
upon the time which it was his duty to devote to the 



Academy. He felt a warm interest in its reputation, 
and entered into a correspondence with gentlemen 
who were acquainted with the English schools of the 
highest rank. In a letter to the late John Pickering, 
written at this time, he says, — ' The institution es- 
tablished here has, of late years, from its ample 
endowments and from other causes, such a degree 
of credit and respectability that the trustees and 
instructors find it in their power to take the lead 
of other academies in the country, and to establish 
for themselves any course of study and system of 
instruction which they please.' He received an an- 
swer from Mr. Pickering, and from Mr. King, then 
our ambassador, who had two sons at Harrow school, 
an ample account of the course of studies at both 
Harrow and Eton schools. This was not a duty 
required of him, but it shows the generous ardor 
with which he promoted the welfare of every worthy 

That he was at this time a diligent student appears 
from a journal, in which the books he read are re- 
corded, with remarks upon them. Unfortunately, a 
great part of this journal is kept in a short-hand char- 
acter. There is a record of nearly three months in 
the journal, written out in plain English.* 

* From November 1, 1800, to January 20, 1801 : — "Priestley's 
Harmony of the Gospels, Parts 1st and 2d. Cave's Primitive Chris- 
tianity. Whiston's Josephus, 4 vols. Studies in Hebrew. Made 
extracts from Priestley and Josephus. Jew's Letter to Voltaire. 
Grotius de Veritate. Priestley's Corruptions of Christianity ; twice. 
Do. Plain Account of Lord's Supper ; also, Kippis's Sermon on the 
same subject. Made an abstract of Bythner's Institutiones Chal- 
daicse. Read Dean and Otis on Prosody. Read the Pursuits of Lit- 
erature. Read Latin, and about six pages of extracts from Zeno- 


A letter of this period written to Mr. Frank Wil- 
liams affords the first intimation of his religious views 
and preferences. 

'Sept. 1801. 

4 My dear Friend, — If you had searched the recesses of 
my heart, you could not have selected topics of correspond- 
ence more dear than those which filled your last letter. 
The Chapel service was ever anticipated by me as one of 
the richest sources of improvement which Boston, so fertile 
in such sources, could afford. The sublime simplicity of 
the Liturgy ; the accuracy, elegance, and at the same time 
the solemnity, of the style in which it is composed, seem at 
once to reconcile us to the ceremony of its forms and its 
repetitions, and exalt the soul irresistibly to feelings of 
devotion. Add to this the deep and full tones of the organ, 
not when sounding the wild fugue of an executioner, but 
swelling the notes of celestial praise ; and where is the 
soul so narrow, so sordid, that it perceives not an expansion, 
an enlargement towards more exalted worlds ? The soul is 
borne along without effort, on the full tide of song, as if 
itself were dissolving into music, or, to give you a better 
idea of an indescribable sensation, we feel that we almost 
wish to die, to dissolve into sound. 

i But how shall I express to you my regard for the man 
who fills the desk ? — in private life so charitable, so 
benevolent, so catholic ; so full of the finer feelings of 
the soul ; richly adorned with knowledge ; full of the most 
rational candor, with an excellent taste, and, united to all 
this, a judgment entirely independent; not parsimonious 
of reproof, but gentle as a parent in the application. 

phon's Cyropsedia in DalzePs Col. Gr. Maj. I was confined by illness 
one fortnight, during which time I read nothing but the history of 
Sir Charles Grandison. Brought from home Beza. Leighton's Crit. 
Sacr. Butler's Analogy. Newton on the Proph. Locke's Paraphrase. 
I desire to be thankful that I have been able to do so much." 


Devoted to the young, like Socrates, he has often had an 
Alcibiades. You acknowledge his remarkable pulpit gifts, 
the perspicuity of his discourses, the solidity of his reason- 
ing, the ingenuity with which his sentiments are defended, 
the general weight of the instruction that his sermons 
contain. Eternal happiness attend him, " my guide, phi- 
losopher, and friend ! " 

4 But, my dear F., I have ever found, where there is so 
great a disparity of age as between Mr. Freeman and 
myself, though there may be profouud respect and a 
chastened familiarity, there is still wanting that full con- 
geniality and unrestrained mutual effusion of sentiment that 
exist between those of more equal ages. 

4 1 confess to you I was very much pleased with some 
passages of your letter, which I was not prepared to expect 
from your connections and habits of life. To obtrude a 
pious sentiment or a religious impression, when we know it 
will be made the sport of ridicule and insult, is not a merit 
or a duty, but only an impertinence. Who would introduce 
an Apostle to the gaming-table ? But to bear witness to 
our Creator when circumstances demand, and to avow our 
belief when it is attacked, or when occasion justifies, is no 
less the honor than the duty of a young man. I have 
often found that the exclusive society of men of this world 
leaves me little disposition to cherish the few sparks of 
piety which have been kindled in my breast. In the midst 
of such society our religious honor, if I may so speak, 
grows dull ; a sarcasm against Christianity hardly wounds 
us, our testimony to the truth becomes more feeble. This, 
I say, I have witnessed within myself, and forgive me if I 
was thus more easily induced to believe it of others.' 

To his residence in Exeter, at this time, my brother 
was indebted for many valuable and long-enduring 
friendships. That of the venerable Principal of the 
Academy and his family, were among the most pre- 


cious acquisitions of his life. After the lapse of nearly 
fifty years, Mrs. Abbot writes of him thus : — 

4 The relation in which he stood to us while Assistant at 
the Academy was that of a most cherished and tenderly 
beloved friend ; and although not a member of my family, 
yet no one was ever welcomed with more heartfelt joy 
around the domestic altar than this favored son of promise. 
His very presence brought with it. a gentle and joyous 
exhilaration. After the lapse of almost half a century, and 
with the mental infirmities of age pressing upon me, I find 
it difficult to recall in detail the many anecdotes which, 
perhaps, an earlier period would have enabled me to retain ; 
but the time-hallowed impression of his social and intel- 
lectual resources can never be forgotten.' 


He was indeed, as his venerable friend expresses, 
' the son of promise and the son of hope.' He had 
just completed his eighteenth year. He had been 
borne along from year to year upon his father's hopes 
and prayers ; he had passed through all preceding 
trials, and, although so young, his character for all 
purposes of excellence was fixed and decided. He 
had entered upon that course of never-ending pro- 
gress, in virtue and knowledge, from which there 
was now no danger of his turning aside ; he had 
begun the race upon that path whose light shineth 
brighter and brighter unto the perfect day ; dawning 
honors began to blush around him ; loving friends 
stood ready to witness his progress; his father relaxed 
his anxious brow, and began to thank God for this 
' son of promise ; ' when suddenly, as by an arrow 
from the cloudless sky, he was struck down by the 



fatal malady that followed him afterwards, almost 
unrelentingly, to the close of his short life.* 

His illness excited universal sympathy in the 
Academy, and the writer well remembers the conster- 
nation which spread in the little circle of home, when 
the news of this distressing event struck upon the 
hearts of parents and sisters. While some anxious 
friends looked upon this visitation as the wreck of 
all their hopes, and others urged the immediate relin- 
quishment of all mental effort, and a total change 
from a studious to an active life, — while his father 
bowed submissively, but with stricken heart, to the 
' sovereign will of God,' — the son was calm and un- 
dismayed. From a passage in his journal, we learn 
that he endeavored to discern the designs of Provi- 
dence in this dispensation, — to look upon it as a 
check to all worldly ambition, and, whatever his future 
success, as a perpetual lesson of humility. It was 
not from ignorance, nor from insensibility to the 
appalling nature of the malady, or the tremendous 
consequences to which it might lead, that he received 
the stroke thus calmly. How little they knew him, 
who imagined it was from ignorance, or from any 
thing but the humblest acquiescence in the will of 
God, the following extract from his journal shows. 

4 Another fit of epilepsy. I pray God that I may be 
prepared, not so much for death as for the loss of health, 
and perhaps of mental faculties. The repetition of these 
fits must at length reduce me to idiotcy ! Can I resign 
myself to the loss of memory, and of that knowledge I 
may have vainly prided myself upon ? O my God ! enable 

# His first attack was in the Academy, in the autumn of 1802. 


me to bear this thought, and make it familiar to my mind, 
that, by thy grace, I may be willing to endure life as long 
as thou pleasest to lengthen it. It is not enough to be 
willing to leave the world when God pleases ; we should 
be willing even to live useless in it, if he, in his holy 
providence, should send such a calamity upon us. O God ! 
save me from that hour ! ' 

The passage above was never intended for human 
eye, but after reading it. we are deeply impressed 
with the manliness of his future course. It was, in- 
deed, the most striking trait in his character. He 
never referred in any manner whatever to his malady. 
It was never an excuse from any, the utmost, mental 
exertion. It was never allowed to diminish his use- 
fulness, and hardly to impair his cheerfulness. Only 
the sister who lived with him, and whose watchful 
eye was scarcely ever closed, knew how often his 
attacks occurred, and how he shook off the languor 
and lassitude they left, and with serene brow armed 
himself for the waiting duty. 

Some extracts from letters to a classmate, remain, 
of this period.* 

' Exeter, Sept. 1801. 

1 Dear Friend, — My feelings and habits are so much 
changed since I wrote you last, that I have hardly one 
passion in common with those which dictated my former 
letters, except that of affection for you, which I hope to 
retain amid all the reverses of life. Your last letter, 
though couched in the gentlest language, was a severe 
reproach of my negligence in suffering a correspondence 
once so interesting to languish in suspense. But it has 
ever been my fault to be too much the slave of time and 

* Rev. Joshua Bates, D. D., late President of Middlebury College. 


circumstance, and to suffer the frequency of correspondence 
to abate without any diminution of regard to my friends. 
My last letter to you, which I have not to this day com- 
pleted, I had wrought up with considerable pains. It was 
a summary of arguments used to confute Mr. Hume's 
assertion of the impossibility of proving miracles by testi- 
mony. As I had begun it as much for my own satisfaction 
as for your perusal, as fast as I matured a paragraph I 
copied it into the letter. When this ingens opus was nearly 
completed, as it lay loose upon my table, it was by some 
mischance torn and mutilated, and rendered wholly useless. 
About this time my mind began to be occupied with the 
idea of coming here, and my situation since has left me 
neither the disposition nor the ability to resume the subject. 

1 It is so long since I have made any effort in the way of 
composition, that the news of your having written two 
sermons really alarmed me. Go on, my friend, and 
prosper, and may the God of truth lead you into all truth, 
and give you understanding in all things. As for myself, 
I feel my literary enthusiasm abate by this change in my 
situation ; the spoils of ancient and of modern learning are 
snatched out of my hands, and he who once vainly and 
ambitiously aspired to the name of a scholar is now 
reduced to teach beggarly rudiments to the child, or to 
hammer the higher branches into harder heads. The poor 
moments of leisure which I enjoy will hardly admit of any 
close application, and if the approach of winter does not 
strengthen my mind, with my body, I shall soon be obliged 
to look back upon my past life and say, " Fin ! " O my 
friend ! of all the maladies of the mind, melancholy is the 
worst. It is at once the parent, the offspring, and the 
companion of idleness. 

' If you ask what has been my course of reading since I 
have been here, I could scarcely answer, as it has been 
without order, without interest, and without effect. I have 
read about a hundred pages of Latin, about thirteen in 


Greek, and the one hundred and nineteenth Psalm in 
Hebrew, and consulted the Greek Testament about a dozen 
times. I have made out to get through Montesquieu's Rise 
and Fall, and one volume of Sully's Memoirs. 

' If possible, I will spend a day with you in the vacation, 
and we will see each other face to face. I love better to 
converse than to write. If I should hunt up the originals 
of my last letter, I will reduce them to some order and 
send them. 

4 Farewell ! Yours, with unabated regard, 

'J. S. B.' 

From the above letter it appears that the change 
from the careless freedom of college life, to the some- 
what irksome duty of teaching the beggarly rudi- 
ments, was at first not without its effect in checking 
the serenity of his disposition. He suffered at first 
from that which is always to men of rich endowments 
a vexing and irksome employment. But he was able 
to convert it into a source of mental improvement for 
himself, and into an elevating and satisfactory occu- 

Another extract from a letter of this e period, to the 
same friend, follows : — 

' Exeter, March 1st. 

1 Indeed, my dear friend, the circumstances of your set- 
tlement evince that you still retain some of the wisdom of 
the children of this world. I rejoice at it, because I think 
that, by being relieved from the pressing cares of a scanty 
subsistence, you will have leisure to devote to those pursuits 
which are at once the duty and the dignity of a minister. 
The age calls loudly for able defenders of Christianity. 
The wild boar threatens to tear down the hedges of our 
vineyard, and the laborers are ignorant and inactive ; they 
know not how to use their tools for the culture of the vine 


or the defence of the vineyard. I hope, my friend, when 
the husbandman cometh and asketh for the fruit, we may 
all be able to produce some of the richest clusters. When 
I think of the duties and opportunities of a minister of the 
Gospel, the mark to which they should press forward seems 
much more elevated than the attainments of many of our 
clergymen would lead one to expect. Let us endeavor, my 
friend, to magnify our office, that it may, by the blessing 
of Heaven, prove at least a barrier to that inundation of 
infidelity on one side and enthusiasm on the other, which 
seems to be sweeping away all that we hold valuable. 

4 My reading has reference to the study of divinity, as 
far as my little leisure will admit. My principal progress 
has been in the Latin and Greek languages. But I have 
not the suitable books to prosecute such a course of study as 
I should wish to mark out.' 


Joseph's residence at waltham. — theological stud- 


1803. In the midst of the perplexity arising 

Aged 19. from the father's reluctance that his son 
should continue the laborious charge of instructor at 
Exeter, and, at the same time, the mental excitement 
of preparing for his profession, Providence opened a 
way, and the kindness of that excellent relative, 
Theodore Lyman, suggested the means, by which he 
could be relieved from the instruction of the Academy. 
My brother had ever found in him and in Mrs. Lyman, 
almost the interest and solicitude of parents. He had 
sometimes spent a part of his college vacations, under 
their hospitable roof, and in the interval between his 
leaving college, and entering upon his duties at Exe- 
ter, their house had been to him a home in parental 
kindness, and far more than his own humble home, 
in the attractions of luxury, and the access to refined 
society. These excellent friends now interposed, 
and, while they desired that he should live in their 
family, with leisure to pursue his studies, proposed 
that he and his father should be relieved from the 
mortification of dependence, by the light task of 


instructing Mr. Lyman's two sons, and preparing the 
elder for college. 

It was in the beginning of the year 1803, that he 
entered Mr. Lyman's family, as an instructor, and he 
then wanted a few months of completing his nine- 
teenth year. His residence at Exeter had given firm- 
ness and dignity to his manners, and he had gained 
in stature and in manliness of appearance. When 
the family removed to Waltham, he accompanied 
them; and in that beautiful residence, surrounded 
with all the soothing and strengthening influences of 
nature, he advanced both in vigor of body and clear- 
ness of perception and intellect. 

Amid the scenery of this lovely retreat, where land 
and water are so sweetly blended, and the hand of 
taste has almost created another Eden, it seems as 
though he must have felt the peace of Eden. With 
the luxury of leisure, the early morning hours for 
study, and the quiet evening for reflection, soothed 
by the murmur of the brook that ran near by, in 
which the peaceful stars were reflected, the perfumes 
of fragrant shrubs and the songs of birds blending 
with the waving of the grass upon the gracefully un- 
dulating lawns, it would seem as if the whole year 
must have been one long holiday of tranquil happi- 
ness. And so it would have been, could the kindness 
of disinterested friendship and the society of the re- 
fined and the cultivated have made it so. We learn 
from passages in his journal that this year of outward 
peace was one of great mental trial. It does not 
appear w T hat was the cause of the conflict, but we can 
only infer that it was connected with the growing 
difference of his religious opinions from those of his 


father, which he knew must at length he made 
known, and occasion that beloved father extreme 
pain. We do not know what secret conflicts were 
going on in the soul amidst outward tranquillity. 
The great battles of the spiritual life are usually- 
fought alone, and in silence. It is not while the 
whole energies of the mind are employed in sustain- 
ing the weight of the conflict, that descriptions of the 
battle are given. It is afterwards, when they can 
be looked back upon with calmness and with col- 
lected thoughts ; — and he did not live to draw lessons 
for others from the work in his own soul. That 
which appears outwardly is what must long before 
have been ripening in the mind, and all that is seen 
is the fruit that falls from the tree of life. " The 
world hears only the rustling of the leaves, beneath 
which the ripening fruit is concealed." 

It was at this time, as appears from his journal, that 
he made a thorough examination of the Trinitarian, 
Socinian, and Arian hypotheses upon the person and 
character of Christ, reading the standard Trinitarian 
writers, and Priestley's History of the Corruptions 
of Christianity, the Apostolic fathers, the contest of 
Priestley with the Monthly Review, and Bishop Hors- 
ley's Tracts. His journal gives a very full account 
of these studies, and, could his own copies of the 
works have been preserved, we should be able to see 
by remarks and references how faithfully he com- 
pared and illustrated the various subjects. While 
engaged in these studies he received the news of the 
death of Priestley, and wrote in his journal : — ' Per- 
haps for the variety and universality of his acqui- 
sitions he may be placed at the head of the learned 



of the eighteenth century. Party politics, that bane 
of every thing great and good, have cast a shade over 
some parts of this great man's character; but 1 believe 
that posterity will do justice to his integrity, as well 
as his talents. But rather than lament a loss of such 
magnitude, let the friends of rational religion and 
religious liberty bless God for granting our age such 
a strenuous and learned friend, and for continuing 
him so long, the admiration and glory of science and 
of religion in its various departments.' 

He says in a letter to his father, about this time, 
that he has read and thought upon the subject of the 
Trinitarian hypothesis almost to distraction. The 
result of his inquiries at this time seems to have been, 
that he rejected Priestley's view of the pure humanity 
of Jesus, and also the hypothesis of a Trinity in Uni- 
ty. He seems to have adopted the belief of the pre- 
existence of the Saviour, and of the connection of his 
life and death with the pardon of sin, while repent- 
ance and a holy life were also necessary to insure the 
favor of God. 

An extract from the journal of this period shows 
the great admiration he felt for another work which 
he had just studied with attention. 

1 February 22. Finished Hartley this evening. I have 
not read the works of Bacon, Newton, or Aristotle ; but if 
I may be allowed to judge from the impression which this 
work has made upon my own mind, it is the most wonderful 
work ever completed by one man. Acute, ingenious, 
original in his theory, clear and decisive in his facts, deep 
but impartial in his reasonings, unbiased in his conclusions, 
he presents us with a work, the unassisted, but complete, 
production of one mind, explaining all the usual phenomena 


of mind from a simple and undeniable principle, that of 
association ; and by this clew guiding us through the mazes 
of metaphysics and of morals. In fine, every part of his 
work is the part of a consistent but stupendous whole. 
Though the theory of vibrations may be wholly separated 
from the system, it is most ingeniously interwoven with it. 
The second volume is peculiarly interesting to the theolo- 
gian, as it vindicates the ways of God to man. It contains 
the only hypothesis which satisfactorily illustrates the intro- 
duction of evil and the nature of human actions ; and, 
to crown the whole, a rich and unusual vein of piety runs 
through the work, which cannot fail to recommend it to the 
serious Christian. Thus I have ventured to record the 
superficial decision of my feeble judgment. If I should 
dare to point out the weaker parts, I should mention the 
chapter on the terms of salvation, and some few passages 
in the evidences of Christianity and some remarks on 
Evangelical counsels. I do not think his account of the 
love of God either exaggerated, enthusiastic, or fanciful, 
especially when he so often acknowledges that it is hardly 
attainable in the present life. His notions of refined self- 
interest and its pleasures are not easily understood, and are 
very inadequately explained ; and there seems to be little 
propriety in making the moral sense a principle of action, 
distinct from the principles of benevolence, piety, and 
rational self-interest. Of the notes of Pistorius, it is 
enough to say, that they are worthy to accompany the 
work on which they comment.' 

The profound admiration and respect that my 
brother felt for Dr. Freeman has been already men- 
tioned. The latter being connected by marriage with 
his father, he frequently invited the son to visit and 
pass weeks at his house ; where his influence insensibly 
won upon the mind and heart of the young man, so 
that he became in some degree involved in the design 


of Dr. Freeman to associate him with himself as a 
colleague, and finally to leave the labors of the Chapel 
pulpit to him. He had obtained a promise from him, 
that, with the consent of his father, he would imme- 
diately assist him in reading the Liturgy, and, as soon 
as he was licensed, he would preach in his desk. 
When these circumstances came to the ears of his 
father, they probably presented the first certain con- 
firmation of his fears, that his son was imbibing the 
liberal sentiments of Unitarians, or f Socinians,' as 
those who embraced Dr. Freeman's views were called. 
Some misgivings naturally arise as to the wisdom or 
propriety of making public letters, which, like the fol- 
lowing, revive the remembrance of an ancient strife, 
and expose feelings and fears over which death has 
sealed its calm silence. Such documents admit of an 
unfair use in the sectarian strife which has not yet 
ceased. But generous and considerate minds will 
accompany their perusal with a candid commentary, 
and will smooth over the seeming harshness of human 
judgments with the gentler spirit of Christian charity, 
which they who feel their own need of it will ever 
be ready to extend to the sincere and good. The 
struggle which is to be exposed between earnest and 
serious convictions, formed through thought, study, 
and prayer, and the tender sensibilities of filial love, 
grieved even by dissent from a father's opinions, is 
too sacred a matter for cold, controversial dispute. 
The revelations here made may serve as an intima- 
tion of the gentler feelings which were involved in 
the more passionate and contentious issues opened in 
the doctrinal warfare of past years. 


' Dec. 3d, 1803. 

'My dear Son, — I have seen with anxiety, for a veiy 
considerable time, your partiality to particular persons, and 
have feared that your happiness would depend too much 
upon the place of your destination. You should not think 
any persons or place necessary to your happiness. You 
should realize that the Divine favor and approbation are 
the great prerequisites to happiness, and endeavor to be 
prepared for any place to which God shall call you, with 
the manifest tokens of his favor. If your years and 
experience were such as to render it prudent to settle in the 
ministry, and you had qualified yourself in the judgment 
of those who license candidates, and you had made an 
experiment of your gifts in less splendid and populous 
places than Boston, I should not object to your supplying 
Brattle Street desk, as they have desired ; though I think 
the situation far from eligible for a young minister who 
would act in all things with a wise reference to the account 
which he must at last desire to give " with joy, and not 
with grief." 

4 As to the manoeuvre in School Street, for I can call 
it nothing else, as it wears a singular complexion, so it 
excites singular emotions. I fear you have suffered your 
great partiality for Mr. Freeman as a man to warp your 
judgment and seduce your heart respecting some of the 
important doctrines of our holy religion, and the founda- 
tion of our hope as sinners. Could he have taken such a 
step, unless he had believed it would be agreeable to you ? 
Could he have been so ungenerous as to reduce you to the 
situation, so painful to your feelings as a son, which he 
must have known, without saying any thing to your father ? 
I feel myself under obligations to Mr. Freeman and his 
family for kindness to me in past days of distress; but if 
they are to be cancelled at such a premium as the delicacy 
of conscience of my son, or of his being ensnared into 
his system or principles, it would have been better for 




me to have died without their sympathy. Could he have 
proceeded so far, if he had not been possessed with the 
persuasion that you were favorable to his opinions ? — 
opinions which, in my view, annihilate the hope of every 
sinner, and destroy all the energy of the Gospel to sanctify 
and renew the soul. Could he flatter himself that a 
descendant of the venerable and firm, though catholic, 
Stevens, and the independent and honest train of Buck- 
minsters, could be induced to aid in the support of senti- 
ments that he did not believe, or that he was so pliant that 
by art and industry and flattery, he could be moulded into 
any thing ? I confess, my son, I feel myself hurt by this 
business ; especially that Mr. Freeman, considering your 
extreme youth and your relation to me, should take such 
a step, without ever hinting one syllable of his intentions 
to me. I can excuse him upon no other principle, than 
that he has never known what the heart of a parent is. I 
hope you have resolutely and finally stopped their pro- 
ceedings. Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. If not, you 
must decline their proposal, and at once excuse yourself 
from their service. If Providence should spare my life and 
yours, and give me any leisure from my present crowd of 
duty, I will endeavor to devote some hours to you upon 
this subject.' 

This letter enables as to understand the entry in 
Joseph's journal, of December 22d, 1803 : — 

8 Went to Newton, [the residence of Dr. Freeman,] 
Thursday, and returned on Saturday. This has been a 
week of distress, from causes which I hope to look back 
upon with satisfaction. O, that I could reconcile the 
commands of conscience, the claims of parental love, and 
the washes of fond and partial friends ! Let vanity yield 
to prudence and self-knowledge, and both be the offspring 
of humility. O God, enlighten my understanding, purify 


my desires, increase my single love of duty, and guide my 
present steps ! ' 

Dr. Buckminster had urged upon his son his own 
desire that he should leave Boston at this time, where 
Mr. Lyman's family always resided in the winter, 
and place himself under the instruction of Dr. Lath- 
rop of Springfield, or Dr. Dana, of Ipswich. 

He writes to his son again, December 27th, 1803: — 

4 1 was in hopes that before this time you had left Boston, 
to which I fear you are too much attached, and that you 
think a residence there too necessary to your happiness. 

" Fixed to no place is happiness sincere ; 
'Tis nowhere to be found, or everywhere.^ 

4 Our happiness, my son, must be the result of doing our 
duty, of submitting to God, and enjoying his favor, or we 
should be wretched in palaces, nay, even in paradise. I 
have heard nothing from you since I recommended your 
going to Dr. Lathrop's to spend some time. I think your 
friends judge unwisely for you and for themselves by 
urging you to preach, and especially in wishing you to 
settle in Boston. Many will think that your remaining 
there, and being exposed to the complimentary remarks 
and the wishes that will be urged upon you, is an indication 
of your desire to settle there ; and this will prejudice many 
against you, and give them a distaste for your services, if 
you should in future be called to preach there. Then, after 
all that has been said and done, if your preaching should 
not be acceptable in Boston, you will, I fear, be mortified, 
and perhaps discouraged. If the plan I proposed had been 
agreeable to you, it would have omened well for you ; but I 
can do no more than advise, and refer all to God. 

4 If your heart is really possessed with the fear and love 
of God, and you are willing, from love to Christ and the 


souls of men, to be a partaker of the afflictions of the 
Gospel, and to be a laborer in any part of God's vineyard, 
and are ready to offer yourself, you had perhaps better 
present yourself for examination ; but whenever you begin 
to preach, I would advise you not to begin in Boston. I 
pray God to have you in his holy keeping.' 

Thus his father watched every avenue to, and was 
as solicitous to guard the delicacy of, his son's honor, 
as he was careful to shield him from disappointment, 
and to prevent him from experiencing the least morti- 
fication. The next subject of anxiety is the applica- 
cation for the son to preach at Brattle Street, Boston. 

' December 31st, 1803. 

1 My dear Son, — I have treated the idea of your preach- 
ing in Boston, or, indeed, preaching any where, at present, 
as mere matters of Utopia ; but I received a letter this week 
from Judge Sullivan upon the subject, in which he seems to 
think there would be no inconvenience or impropriety in 
your beginning in Brattle Street, and intimates that he had 
suggested it to you, although he relieved me by observing, 
that you did not give him any encouragement, or receive 
the matter as a subject of serious consideration. 

' Although I have supposed that you had thought of the 
ministry as a profession, and it is perfectly agreeable to me 
that you should enter it, if God has given or should give 
you the necessary qualifications, yet, considering your 
extreme youth and the state of your health, I have wished 
you to look upon it as an object in the distant future. But 
if you have thought of beginning to preach any time within 
these six months, you should resolve to reside with some 
clergyman, whose company, conversation, and ministerial 
gifts would assist and initiate you into some of the more 
private, as well as public, offices of the profession ; then, 
when it shall be judged prudent or pioper, you should 


come forward in some more retired place, certainly not 
begin in the metropolis of New England. It is better to 
have it said to us, " Come up higher," than to have it said, 
" Go down lower." I hope you will not consent to that 
which has at least the appearance of vanity, by making 
your first attempt in Boston, — that your friends will not 
urge it, and that you will not permit them to urge it. 

' You know, my dear son, that it has always been my 
opinion that it would be best for you, as I think it is for 
every student in divinity, to spend some time with an 
approved and respectable clergyman before he begins 
preaching ; and I hope you will take some measures to 
study awhile with Dr. Lathrop of Springfield. As to your 
qualifications for examination, I have no doubt you would 
acquit yourself so as to obtain approbation, and if I were 
as certain of your having those qualifications for the min- 
istry which God only can give, as of your having those 
which are attained by human industry and application, I 
should not object to your offering yourself for examination. 
But you would come with fairer prospects from under the 
wing, and with the countenance, of some respectable 
clergyman, than from your present residence. I hope 
God will be your guide and guardian, and if he designs 
you for a laborer in his vineyard, he will furnish you and 
send you forth. Let us hear from you soon. Your affec- 
tionate, but anxious father, 


We have seen that Judge Sullivan consulted both 
father and son upon the subject of the son's preaching 
at Brattle Street, in December, 1803. The next step 
was, that a committee of the Brattle Street Church 
addressed themselves to the son, in the beginning of 
March, 1804, urging him to make his first trial there. 
Upon which his father writes : — 


' March 19th, 1804. 

1 My dear Son, — You have long had my opinion and 
advice ; nor have I seen any reason to alter them ; and 
though not delivered in that peremptory and absolute way 
that used to be the custom in the treatment of children, they 
were no less decided. If my advice had been regarded, and 
you had passed the winter at Springfield or Ipswich, you 
would have escaped your perplexities, and would have been 
in greater readiness to meet the application of the Brattle 
Street Church. I should now advise you to place yourself 
with one of those gentlemen, and tell the committee in 
Boston, that, as soon as your instructor thought proper to 
bring you forward, you would commence preaching. It is, 
indeed, absurd for them to fix their eyes only upon you. 

' If you are qualified to begin to preach, the train of your 
preparation has been a little singular, and you must come 
upon the stage under that disadvantage. I can do nothing 
for you, my dear son, in the perplexed and embarrassed 
state of my family. If your mother were not so ill, I should 
desire you to return home ; but her situation is such as to 
demand all my attention, beside the family being so encum- 
bered with nurses that little study could be done here. If 
you cannot reconcile it to your feelings to go to either of the 
gentlemen I have mentioned, why cannot you reside a little 
while with Dr. Morse or with Mr. Homer of Newton ? 

' I should be glad to see some of your essays or disserta- 
tions upon some doctrinal points, if you have w r ritten any ; 
it would enable me better to judge of your ripeness for your 
public appearance. But, whatever you do, ask counsel of 
God, and rest yourself upon his mercy.' 

Upon this request of his father, Joseph went to 
Portsmouth, and, in various conversations with him, 
the painful doubts of the son upon those points of 
doctrine which the Calvinistic theology deems neces- 
sary for acceptance with God became apparent. The 


son says, in his private journal, that he could never 
dispute or argue with his father ; that such was his 
tenderness for him, and his habit of implicit acquies- 
cence in all his wishes, that disputing was as impos- 
sible as it would have been to have disobeyed his 
orders in his childhood. But when it came to direct 
question and answer, the candor and honesty of the 
son would not permit him to make use of any con- 
cealment or mental reservation. 

The father was at this time oppressed by family 
cares and anxieties. The long and dangerous illness 
of his beloved wife was drawing rapidly to a fatal 
termination, leaving him with a young and almost 
helpless family, so that, when the fact of his son's 
departure from what he believed the faith once de- 
livered to the saints came with conviction to his 
heart, it is not strange that he was nearly over- 
whelmed. In the letters that follow, he seems to 
have forgotten the ripening excellences of his son's 
character, the comfort he had already enjoyed in his 
docility, and the confidence he felt in the manliness 
of his character, and, because a certain speculative 
faith was wanting, to have regarded all the rest, to 
use his own expression, as 'only filthy rags.' 

This difference in religious sentiment was probably 
the severest trial to both that they could have met 
with in the unclouded confidence, the transparent 
openness of intercourse, that existed between them. 
Although it is proper for the memorial of both that 
the correspondence should not be be withheld, yet, 
as they were both of one spirit, both loved their 
Divine Master supremely, this difference of their faith 
respecting him never for a moment impaired their 

144 Joseph's first sermon, at york. 

love to him, or to each other. They could never be 
far apart, for they stood upon the same ground of 
intimate conviction of the greatest and most impor- 
tant truths. God was next the heart of both. But 
the one belonged to a particular system ; he was 
trammelled by a theory, and he feared that his son 
would be bewildered and lost, were he not also bound 
by the faith of ancient creeds. Both possessed the 
same principle of inward, spiritual life. It came from 
the same source ; it conformed both in thought, tem- 
per, and action to the inward oracle of right ; in both 
it led to disinterested love of man, — to high endeavor 
for the good of others ; it gave strength to surfer to 
the one ; it gave him humility to bear success to the 
other. It has been said that it came from the same 
source ; to continue the metaphor, one drank it from 
the iron pipes in which man had bent and checked 
the stream, the other from the pure, freshly flowing 
river. We may believe that both were channels of 
God's blessing to others, each performing services 
equally acceptable in his sight. 

Upon this visit at Portsmoth, my brother preached 
his first sermon, at York, in the pulpit of his venerable 
relative, Mr. Lyman, the father of his step-mother. 
He was disabled from preaching, and had long been 
confined to the house by a palsy ; but upon this occa- 
sion he once more ascended, with tottering steps, the 
pulpit stairs, to listen to his young relative. The 
occasion and scene were made striking by the ex- 
tremely youthful appearance of the young preacher, 
his beautiful countenance radiant with genius and the 
expression of elevated thought, and that of the aged 
minister, whose white hairs were covered with a 


velvet cap, and who could not even rise when the 
prayer was offered for him, that his trembling steps 
might be gently supported through the short descend- 
ing path to the grave. They presented almost the 
extremes of life meeting in one common petition, for 
there were some present who thought the life of the 
younger more frail and tremulous than even that of 
the aged pastor. 

There was a circumstance which the writer well 
remembers. My brother, in reading the chapter from 
Scripture, omitted a word, or substituted a different 
meaning of some word, which the elder minister 
instantly corrected, by calling out in full voice the 
received reading ; the other slightly smiled and went 

This meeting-house and congregation of Old York 
were both among the most ancient and primitive in 
the country. The venerable old building is now re- 
placed by a modern structure, with slips within, and 
white paint without. The ancient building was per- 
fect in its iconoclasm. The square, oaken pews, 
polished and dark with age, were guiltless of all 
carpet, cushion, or seductive invitation to wandering 
thoughts; the beams of the ceiling were formed of 
heavy timber, roughhewn into form. Beneath the 
pulpit was an inclosed seat for the elders, two hoary- 
headed old men, with long, waving locks. Upon the 
corner of these seats the old frame for the hour-glass 
kept its place, the sands long since run out and mo- 
tionless. In front of these was another square inclosed 
seat for the deacons, and facing them, upon the floor 
of the meeting-house, were seats for the singers. 
Within the childish memory of the writer, the hymn 



was given out two lines at a time, and sung with 
pauses breaking the harmony of the verses. In each 
pew, close to the mother's elbow, was the little 
wooden cage, where the youngest child, still too 
young to sit alone, was for two long hours an infant 

Primitive as was the church, the congregation also 
retained its Puritan aspect, as they arrived, one family 
after the other, from their old farm-honses among the 
hills. The wife, the sister, or the betrothed dis- 
mounted at the old oaken block, close to the meeting- 
house door, from behind her cavalier ; and the old 
family horse patiently took his position outside, till 
the long service was over. The old sexton in the 
porch, rope in hand, and arrayed in his cocked hat, 
waited anxiously for the pastor ; when, quitting the 
bell, he preceded him, hat in hand, to the pulpit 
stairs, and then, when the door was closed, respect- 
fully took his seat. All these ancient customs passed 
away from our manners even before the Puritan meet- 
ing-houses disappeared from the landscape. 

The letters that follow were written immediately 
after my brother's visit to Portsmouth. It is to be 
regretted that so few of the son's replies have been 

' June 25, 1804. 

4 My unhappy Son, — I can pity you and pray for you, 
but I know not how to help you, preparing to be a minister 
of Christ, an ambassador of God, preparing to pull down 
the strongholds of sin, to turn sinners from darkness to light, 
and from the power of Satan unto God, and yet believing 
that your Master is only a created being, or a delegated 


messenger of Deity ! How faint must be your hope of 
success, how weak your expectations, how fallacious your 
confidence, — striving to reconcile sinners to God, and yet 
presenting them with no other righteousness as the ground 
of their hope of pardon and justification but their own, which 
is but as filthy rags ! An awakened conscience will never 
get ease upon such ground. Nor will the Church of Christ 
be ever built up where the doctrine of justification is not 
among the fundamental principles that are taught. A 
worldly church may be built ; men may be formed to 
external decency and order, but the corrupt fountain of the 
heart will never be cleansed, nor the soul formed to be a 
habitation of God, where the doctrine of Christ's atonement 
is disowned, or where it is not made the ground and cause 
of communicating grace to men. 

' You ask my advice when it is too late to give it. You 
should have listened when I urged your studying with some 
clergyman last winter. You have never had any proper 
education for the ministry, and will feel the inconvenience 
of it all your days. I would now urge your immediately 
going to Springfield, were it not that I hear Dr. Lathrop is 
not in a situation to take pupils ; but if you can be released 
from Mr. Lyman's family, I would advise you to go to Dr. 
Morse, or Dr. Dana of Ipswich, or to come home. 

' As to preaching, I do not see how you can extricate 
yourself. Your friends have committed you, by binding you 
to a promise to preach at such a time. If the committee 
of Brattle Street, or of any other church, should apply to 
you with the view of hearing you in order to a settlement, 
I advise you, as an honest man, (and this you seem desirous 
to be,) to tell them plainly that you do not believe in the 
proper Deity and Divinity of Christ, nor in his vicarious 
satisfaction and atonement for the sins of men, and I pre- 
sume they will trouble you no more ; or if they should, 
nevertheless, urge you to preach, I advise you, in your first 
sermon, to be explicit upon those points, and not make use 


of any concealments or expressions that may mean any 
thing or nothing. This will decide the matter with you ; 
you will be able easily to relinquish your profession ; for I 
cannot believe that the churches of Christ are so removed 
from the foundation of the Apostles, and have so lost the 
principles of the Reformation, that they would settle minis- 
ters who deny the Divinity of the Head of the Church, or 
the price at which it has been purchased and redeemed. 
If, therefore, you preach where you have any reason to 
suppose the people hear you with a view to settlement, be 
open and explicit. 

4 It is not for me to judge another man's servant, nor to 
judge my own son, but I desire to receive it as a humiliating 
rebuke from my Lord and Master, that he should so far con- 
ceal from you what appears to me the great, important, and 
eternal truth, and pervert your judgment from the simplicity 
that is in Christ. O that I may be removed from every idol 
but God ! Your mamma is very ill. To God I commend 
her and you, and trust he will give his grace to all. I know 
he will be glorified in us, whatever be our life here or our 
situation hereafter.' 

The son now informs his father that he has en- 
gaged to preach, the succeeding Sabbath, at Waltham, 
for the Rev. Dr. dishing. After some domestic in- 
formation, the father replies : — 

■ July 7, 1804. 

1 My dear Son, — As to the unpleasant situation to which 
you have reduced yourself, pledged as you are to preach, 
1 know not what to say. Indeed, you have always been so 
reserved with respect to your opinions, that I know not what 
you do believe, or what you would preach and say to your 
fellow-men. How you can doubt those doctrines that lie 
at the foundation of all the hopes of Christians I know not, 
except from an injudicious course of reading. I am per- 


suaded you will think differently upon these doctrines when 
you come to have more acquaintance with your own heart 
and the hearts of others, and when you read the Scriptures 
with this impression, which is certainly a just one, that they 
were designed as a rule of faith and practice to men in 
general, to the unlearned as well as the learned, to those 
that are incapable of criticising no less than to those who 
by subtilty of reasoning make plain things intricate and dark 
things plausible. Certainly the doctrine of the Trinity, as it 
is usually received, the Divinity of the Saviour, and his pro- 
pitiatory sacrifice for the sins of men, by whose righteous- 
ness we are justified and by whose grace we are sanctified, 
are the most plain doctrines of Scripture, and those who 
deny them are obliged to explain away the word of God in 
order, with any show of plausibility, to support their doctrine 
by the word of God. I am sorry you have pledged yourself 
to preach. Read Dr. Bates's Harmony of the Divine Attri- 
butes in the Work of the Redemption, and put yourself 
under the instruction of some learned and pious divine. 
Open your perplexities and difficulties to him, but above all 
pray to God to guide you into all truth, and to keep you 
from wounding his honor and his cause.' 

The son replies as follows. Would that we had 
more of his filial letters ! 

' Waltham, July 23, 1804. 

1 My dear Father, — I received last night a letter from 
Judge Sullivan, as chairman of the Brattle Street committee, 
inquiring whether they might expect me, and at what time, 
if any, I would engage to supply them. I should have 
answered by letter, but Mr. Lyman thinks I had better see 
him, which I shall do to-morrow, and endeavor to preclude 
all expectation of hearing me, and all hope of any future 
consent to their wishes. 

4 You express your surprise at my ever having thought 



of preaching with such sentiments as I entertain. I do not 
exactly know what sentiments you suppose me to hold ; but 
I have always considered it to be the object of the Christian 
dispensation to lead men to virtue and holiness, and that 
this also ought to be the great object of its ministers. To 
this end the doctrines of the Gospel are auxiliary as means 
or motives, without any intrinsic value in themselves, or in 
the acknowledgment of them, except so far as they lead to 
this great end, the promotion of Christian excellence. If, 
then, I could believe that this great end could be attained 
without insisting upon Jesus Christ being the most high 
God, I felt no scruple on this score in endeavoring to 
bear a small share in this honorable employment. If 
circumstances should occur which would make it proper 
or necessary for me to make an explicit avowal on this 
head I would be prepared to meet them ; but if they should 
not, I conceived it to be my first duty to recommend 
holiness by motives which I could honestly urge, and leave 
my opinions upon disputed points to the private inquiries 
of my hearers. I wished not to deny other men's belief, 
but only to be excused from preaching what did not make 
a part of my own. Even under such circumstances I 
hoped, by the blessing of God, to prove a servant not 
entirely unprofitable. I did not foresee, in its utmost 
extent, the pain which my skepticism on some points would 
give you, and I trusted, perhaps, too much to the influence 
of time, and to the tenderness of the parental relation. 

' If, however, as seems now to be the case, you think that 
son unfit to be a preacher who, without supposing Jesus 
Christ to be the Most High God, believes that he is an illus- 
trious person, enjoying a most intimate communion with 
God, and possessing a peculiar relation to him, (a relation 
which we can perhaps never justly understand,) constituted 
also our infallible guide in faith and practice, and exalted 
to be the dispenser of all spiritual blessings, and the future 
judge of mankind; — if also, in your opinion, it is not 


sufficient for the purposes of Christian obedience, and of 
love and gratitude to Christ's character, to consider his 
death as the highest act of his obedience and suffering 
for the benefit of sinful man, and as the ground on which 
God chooses to dispense his pardon to the penitent, without 
considering it as an infinite satisfaction for the offended 
justice of God, separate from which God could not or would 
not pardon sin ; — if such, I say, be the nature of your views 
on this subject, actum est de prcedicatione. 

' But I have already written and thought on this subject 
almost to distraction. You will no doubt say, my father, 
that I should have taken your advice last winter, and put 
myself under the tuition of some clergyman. Perhaps I 
ought. No doubt many of the perplexities of my present 
situation would have been avoided, but others would per- 
haps have arisen, and the principal one might not have been 
removed. Besides, in declining your proposal, I had the 
universal sentiment of my friends here in my favor. JVW, 
it appears to me there is little difference between relinquish- 
ing the profession entirely, and committing myself to the 
instruction of any clergyman under the uncertain hope of 
attaining at last to those views of Christian truth which you 
deem essential. 

' I have employed almost every day since my return 
from Portsmouth in reading the most orthodox works on 
this subject, Edwards, Jamieson, Ridgely, etc., and from 
what I know of the state of my own mind I despair of 
ever giving my assent to the proposition that Jesus Christ 
is God, equal to the Father. I have been thus explicit to 
you, my dear Sir, that, whatever may be my future lot, I 
may still retain the consciousness of having preferred the 
relinquishment of any prospect of fame and preferment to 
the slightest evasion or hypocrisy upon subjects deemed 
by you so important. If this letter have any thing of a 
presumptuous or dogmatical air, I pray you to forgive it, 
as it has arisen from the desire not to be misunderstood. 


c It is probable that I might get a tutorship at college ; 
this would be congenial to my pursuits, and it is not proba- 
ble that I shall live to grow a burden upon their hands. I 
rejoice to hear that mamma is better. If you can only 
satisfy yourself that I do not cease to be a subject of the 
grace of God when I cease to be a Trinitarian, and let not 
this disappointment prey upon your mind, I may still be 
useful and happy. 

1 Your dear son, 

' J. S. B.' 

The sympathy of a reader is strongly enlisted alike 
for the father and son, in this their mutual confidence, 
which nothing impaired on the part of the son, and 
which yielded on the part of the parent only to a 
most cherished conviction of the supreme importance 
of speculative opinions. What an exhibition have 
we here of the different offices of the heart and mind 
in settling the essentials of Christian belief! 

To the foregoing honest and explicit letter the 
father returned answer : — 

' July 30, 1804. 

' My unhappy Son, — If you are fixed and settled in 
the sentiment that Jesus Christ is not a Divine person, nor 
any thing more than a created messenger of God, and that 
the business of his coming into the world was only to pub- 
lish truth, and to attest the truth that he published with his 
blood, and give hope and confirmation of a resurrection, 
but not to make atonement and satisfaction for sin, and if 
there is no hope of your having different views upon these 
points, it is best for you to think of some other profession 
than the ministry ; you had better be a porter on the wharf 
than a preacher with such views. 

1 You are young enough to turn your attention to the 
study of law, or to the theory and practice of physic. I 


advise you never to be a preacher with such an opinion of 
your Master and his system, as a denial of his Divinity and 
his atonement necessarily involve. I do not doubt, my son, 
that men have had the real consolations of the Gospel who 
have held different views of many religious truths, nor that 
men have had serenity of mind in holding the grossest 
errors. But the consolations of the Gospel cannot be 
enjoyed by those who destroy the fundamental doctrines of 
the Gospel, and he who does not build upon Christ as the 
foundation of all hope, and upon his blood as the price of 
purchase, and the blood of cleansing from all sin, can have 
no solid hope of salvation. Could you have been per- 
suaded to follow a different course of study, it appears to 
me these difficulties would have been avoided ; but I have 
thought it my duty to advise, rather than to insist, and if 
God should blast the fond hopes that I have entertained 
respecting you, he will be righteous. I desire to give up 
all into his hands : my wife, my children, and my own 

Upon the receipt of which letter the son writes in 
his private journal : — ' Oh God, assist, guide, aud 
direct me what course of life to pursue ! Save me 
from prejudice, from indifference, from ambition, and 
from worldly views.' 

And to his father he writes thus : — 

' August 10th, 1804. 

1 My dear Father, — Your last letter appears to be final 
upon the subject of my preaching ; but as I have already 
made an engagement to preach for Dr. Cushing, my sermon 
may also be a valedictory. It would be more congenial to 
my feelings and pursuits to be a tutor at the College, than 
to study either of the professions you mention. My tastes 
are literary, and as I am not ambitious of riches, the salary, 


together with my own little fortune,* would be amply suffi- 
cient, even if my health should fail before the term of my 

' I cannot conceal from myself and from you, that this 
termination of the expectations of friends, and, may I not 
add without vanity, of the ample preparation I have made 
for my profession, is a severe disappointment of my fondest 
hopes. Yet the preparation may not be altogether lost. If 
God should spare my life, I may be able to do something in 
diffusing a deeper love of intellectual pursuits, and a purer 
taste among young persons of my own age ; and the malady 
with which God has visited me is a perpetual warning to me 
that I have no right to expect a long life. 

1 You must permit me to differ from you in the propriety 
of declaring my views from the pulpit. I shall always be 
ready to give an answer to private inquiries, but I conceive 
that it would be only an arrogant assumption for the young- 
est of preachers to intrude upon a mixed audience views 
that might be startling, that perhaps are not yet matured ; 
and although I see no expectation of my ever becoming a 
Trinitarian, further investigation may modify what is now 
the subject of incessant thought and constant prayer. 
4 Your affectionate son, 


That Joseph was entirely sincere in his intention 
of relinquishing, out of respect to his father, the pro- 
fession of his choice, appears from a letter written, 
btit perhaps not sent, to Mr. Sidney Willard, the 
Librarian of Harvard College. 

' Dec, 1803. 

' Dear Sir, — I should have given myself the pleasure of 
waiting upon you a second time before you left Portsmouth, 

* Left him by his maternal grandfather, the Rev. Dr. Stevens. 


but I was not only unwilling to interrupt you while taking 
leave of your friends, but the subject upon which I wished 
to speak with you was in some degree private. You will 
recollect that I then took the liberty of asking you, if you 
intended to leave your present situation at Cambridge. I 
should not have been so impertinent as to propose the 
question, except that I had heard it mentioned from several 
quarters that such was your intention, which I was the more 
induced to believe, from knowing that you had been for 
some time engaged in preaching. I sometimes indulge my 
inclination for a residence at Cambridge, and the office of 
Librarian I have always thought would be most accommo- 
dated to the pursuit of my favorite objects. Perhaps it is 
presumptuous in me to expect ever to attain it ; at best, my 
prospect of success is so uncertain, that I have been induced 
to give you this intimation of my wishes, presuming that 
you will not think it impertinent in me to suggest them. If 
your intention of leaving Cambridge depend upon circum- 
stances at present doubtful, you will greatly oblige me 
by giving me notice of your determination whenever it is 
decidedly formed. I will take the liberty, also, of request- 
ing you to inform me whether any application for the office 
has yet been made. If my request should appear to you in 
any degree improper, I must beg your pardon for troubling 
you with this letter.' 



Dr. Buckminster had now been settled in 
Portsmouth twenty-four years, and during 
that time he had been pursuing the usual quiet rou- 
tine of the duties of a parish minister, varied and 
rendered more than usually interesting by the state of 
the public mind in this transition period of the coun- 
try. The country was then passing through those 
momentous events which finally established its pros- 
perity ; but while they were in progress, they deeply 
agitated the minds of all men, and laid upon public 
instructors a double weight of responsibility. It was 
then deemed proper, even indispensable, that minis- 
ters should preach upon all subjects of public and 
political interest, expressing their individual opinions 
with moderation, but with decision and indepen- 
dence ; and it sometimes happened that they did not 
confine themselves to the bounds of moderation. 
There were at this time very few newspapers, — no 
reading-rooms; the public press was just beginning 
to be the important instrument of good and of evil 
which it has since become, and the preaching of the 

* This year the degree of Doctor in Divinity was conferred upon 
Mr. Buckminster by the College of New Jersey. 


ministers, at least in country places, was one of the 
great means of instructing and informing the people 
in political affairs, as well as in religious duties. 

Since the period of Dr. Buckminster's settlement 
at Portsmouth, the treaty had been concluded which 
finished the war and established the independence of 
the country. The terrible depression of public credit 
which followed, and all the distressing embarrass- 
ments of the period, he bore, together with his faith- 
ful parish, waiting for better times for the full 
payment of his moderate salary. The adoption of 
the Constitution ; the choice of rulers, and of Wash- 
ington as the first President ; his visit to Portsmouth ; 
his retirement from the Presidency ; the choice of 
John Adams ; the death of Washington, and the sub- 
sequent celebration of his birthday and also the com- 
memoration of the day of his death, were signal 
occasions, upon all of which Dr. Buckminster preached 
sermons which his hearers thought worthy of more 
extensive circulation, and at their request they were 

A sermon, preached by him at the time of the visit 
of Washington to the Eastern States, subjected him, 
from those who did not hear it, to severe censure. 
Dr. Buckminster was not informed till late on Satur- 
day that the illustrious guest would worship at his 
church in the forenoon, and the sermon was prepared 
in haste from Psalm xxiv. 7, 8 : — ' Lift up your 
heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting 
doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is 
this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty; 
the Lord mighty in battle.' 

Perhaps the selection of the text was unfortunate ; 



but to all who heard or read the discourse, it appeared 
as far as possible from any intention to flatter. The 
sermon was not introduced, as is usual, by the annun- 
ciation of the text, but by an address to the people, 
congratulating them upon the safe arrival of the Pres- 
ident of the United States. The preacher says : — 

4 We now see this illustrious patriot, like the father of a 
great family, visiting its various branches to bless and to 
be blessed, to start the tear of joy, and awaken mutual con- 
gratulations. He comes, — not attended with mercenary 
guards, like kings and emperors, who hold their dignity by 
hereditary descent, who ever fear where no fear is, — he 
comes not in the triumph of military parade, to show the 
spoils and laurels he hath won, — but he comes triumphing 
in the confidence and affection of a free and grateful people, 
who, under God, hail him as the deliverer of their countiy, 

and the protector of its liberties 

4 Too much respect, that fall short of religious homage, 
cannot be paid to one to whom we owe so much ; were 
more to be offered, he would say, with the angel in the 
Revelation, " See thou do it not! 1 am thy fellow-servant, 
and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus. 
Worship God ! " 

4 Whatever distinctions there may be among mankind, 
however indebted we may be to an earthly benefactor, they 
all fade away before our Father ; " For one God hath 
created us ; there is none in the heavens that may be com- 
pared to him, there is none among the sons of the mighty 
that may be likened to Jehovah.'" Permit me, then, my 
friends, to take occasion, from this auspicious event of a 
kind Providence, to excite your expectations, exalt your 
conceptions, and solicit your preparation for the approach 
of that glorious character, " who is the brightness of the 
Father's glory, and the express image of his person ; " who 
is so infinitely exalted that it is the crowning excellence of 


the most perfect and exalted human character to be his 
servant and disciple. This I shall do by calling your atten- 
tion to that sublime demand of the royal poet : — 

'"Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, 
ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. 
Who is this King of Glory ? The Lord, strong and mighty, 
the Lord mighty in battle." ' 

The sequel of the sermon was an exhortation to 
his hearers to be prepared for that great coming of 
Jesus, and to open the doors of their hearts to give 
him entrance. Arid in conclusion he said, ' that it 
was the greatest distinction of their illustrious guest 
that he honored the Saviour, and rendered homage to 
the Father of all.' 

In as far as a man like him could permit himself 
to cherish an almost idolatrous affection for any hu- 
man being, Dr. Buckminster felt that affection for 
Washington. The only journey that he appears to 
have made while tutor at New Haven was to visit 
the camp at Cambridge, — where, indeed, his uncle, 
Colonel William Buckminster, was ; but his object 
appears to have been to see the illustrious man. Of 
the twenty-five sermons that were printed during his 
ministry, six were devoted to the character, and in 
public commemoration of Washington. Only twice 
does the writer remember to have seen her father 
weep. The first time was at the death of that great 
man. When the news of that sudden and disastrous 
event reached him, tears, a flood of tears, impeded his 
utterance as he attempted to impart the news to his 

# It was his habit to send a copy of his printed sermons to Wash- 
ington. These were always acknowledged by a letter from the Presi- 
dent's own hand. 


It was urged, at the death of Dr. Buckminster, that 
the best legacy that could be given to his parish 
would be a volume of his sermons. Such a gift was 
rendered difficult by his habit of writing in a charac- 
ter, the key to which was not understood. As his 
mind was highly poetical, the character of his preach- 
ing was discursive rather than argumentative. Scrip- 
ture biography, especially that of the patriarchs, 
was a favorite subject for his sermons, in which his 
vivid imagination entered fully into the picturesque 
Orientalism of their lives and characters. But David 
was the Scripture character in whose poetical and 
devotional spirit he wholly sympathized. The fer- 
vent piety and touching humility exhibited in the 
Psalms of David excited in him the strongest emotion. 
The poetry of the Scriptures was ever on his lips, 
and much quoted in his sermons. 

The writer is painfully aware that, where the space 
is limited and the occasion admits of no more, de- 
tached parts afford but a very inadequate impression 
of the whole sermon. 

Before giving any extracts from Dr. Buckminster's 
writings, the opinion is quoted of one who had formed 
his judgment from an intimate acquaintance, and who 
could not be suspected of partiality. 

' The character of Dr. Buckminster's mind was strongly 
marked. It had much originality. No person could be 
conversant with him without noticing that strength of voli- 
tion which indicates superiority of intellectual endowment. 
His mind was rapid in its operations and impatient of delay. 
In the character of his mind he was qualified for distinction 
in the departments of elegant literature. Such in his early 
life was his taste for the attractions of music and poetry, that 


he seriously apprehended he should be drawn from solid 
usefulness of character, to enjoy the allurements of fancy. 
Under this apprehension, he almost totally abstracted him- 
self from his favorite pursuits, and for Parnassus substituted 
Mount Zion. In his sermons and in his services as a 
minister, traces of a playful imagination were ever visible. 
He seemed to delight to dwell upon the figurative language 
and the rich imagery of Scripture, and to adorn the solemn 
truths of religion with all the ornament that the sacred 

classics could supply 

4 His sermons were not labored by art. His mind was 
not accustomed to the regular management of argumenta- 
tive discourse. It was impatient of the forms of close 
investigation and systematic reasoning. It glanced with 
rapidity from one subject to another, and when truth was 
discovered he was eager to give to it a practical effect. 
His discourses, therefore, were often rather a collection of 
truths and exhortations deemed important and useful, than 
a systematic arrangement of arguments and thoughts upon 
any particular subject. 

' * 

It may be added, that the effect of his preaching 
was to produce emotion, rather than conviction. 
Emotion is necessarily transient ; and, although he 
was one of the most eloquent of the Orthodox per- 
suasion, there was no revival in his parish during his 

The first of his sermons that was given to the 
public was upon the occasion of the National Thanks- 
giving, appointed by Congress, December 11th, 1783, 
after the ratification of the treaty of peace with 
Great Britain. It is remarkable for a eulogy upon 
Louis the Sixteenth, ' who, while Protestant powers 

* From Dr. Parker's Funeral Sermon. 

162 dr. btjckminster's sermons. 

stood aloof from our aid, and, like the priest and 
the Levite, passed over on the other side, like the 
good Samaritan, rose to our assistance ; and, as a 
second Cyrus, offered his aid for securing our lib- 

The next of his sermons which was printed was 
after the death of Mrs. Porter, of Rye, the wife of 
one of his brethren of the Piscataqua Association. 
She was a lady of remarkable loveliness of person 
and character ; and as she died soon after the death 
of his own first wife, similarity of circumstances, and 
sympathy of feeling under the same bereavement, 
produced utterances of peculiar tenderness and elo- 

Of the extracts that follow, the first is from a 
sermon preached February 22d, 1S00, — the day 
appointed by Congress to commemorate the death of 
Washington. The North and South Parishes united 
upon this occasion, and, as it was not the Sabbath, 
the sermon has more of a political aspect than is usual. 
The theme of the discourse is, that 'religion and 
righteousness, or justice, are the basis of national 
honor and prosperity.' 

4 Let us strive to preserve that American veneration for 
God and his judgments, and a practical regard to that 
glorious system of truth and duty which he has given us. 
This will be our wisdom and understanding ; this will be 
the means of our renown among the nations of the earth ; 
and, what is far more, it will secure to the institutions 
of our young republic a stability and permanency by the 
blessing of Him, whose it is to make great and give 
strength unto all. 


1 May we not be encouraged to this duty by the fond, and 
not, I believe, enthusiastic hope, that God designs America 
as the honored and happy instrument of extending the 
banners of truth and freedom, and of placing a barrier 
against the flood of infidelity that has deluged so great a 
part of the Old World ? Do not the views and principles 
with which this country was settled, its situation with 
respect to the nations of Europe, the remarkable dispensa- 
tions of Heaven in reference to its religious as well as 
political interests, give rational ground for this hope ? 
Without a prevalence of virtue and justice, republics cannot 
exist ; without religion, virtue cannot prevail ; and no 
religion affords so firm a basis, or exhibits such animating 
motives to a manly virtue, as that which brings life and 
immortality to light, and holds forth rewards and punish- 
ments stamped with eternity. If we retain any reverence 
for revelation, we must believe that God will preserve his 
Church in the world. He may remove it from one place, 
but it shall be firm in another. The gates of hell shall 
not prevail against it. " The kings of the earth may set 
themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against 
the Lord and against his anointed," but, in the sublime 
language of Scripture, " He that sitteth in the heavens will 
laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision ; then shall 
he speak to them in his wrath, and vex them in his hot 
displeasure." From these considerations, may not the 
friend of religion, of good order, of liberty, encourage a 
rational hope that God will yet maintain his throne among 
us, and display his banner, because of truth ? And may 
not every such true patriot be encouraged in every rational 
exertion to revive a practical regard " to all those disposi- 
tions and habits which lead to political prosperity, of which 
religion and morality are indispensable supports ? " 

4 Let it not be thought a vain repetition if I again exhort 
my enlightened and reflecting fellow-citizens to soften all 
their unpleasant feelings, and merge all their party views in 


a united veneration for God and his government, and in a 
conscientious and exemplary observance of his laws and 
institutions. Thus shall we prove, that, though we are men, 
and liable to err, under the impressions to which humanity 
is subject, yet we are indeed the friends of our country, 
and ready to do every thing in our power to secure to it the 
shield and benediction of Him who can make a little one 
to become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation. 

1 If there is any confidence to be placed in the deductions 
of reason, or any credit to be given to the declarations of 
Scripture, we learn from these remarks who are the true 
friends of our country, and the means of securing to it 
national honor and prosperity. The true friends of our 
country are those who rationally and devoutly reverence, 
adore, and fear God, and keep his righteous judgments and 
conscientiously walk in his statutes and ordinances. I 
would not be understood to insinuate that contemners of 
religious duties, and even men void of religious principle, 
may not have an attachment to their country and a desire 
for its civil and political prosperity ; nay, they may even 
expose themselves to great dangers and make great sacri- 
fices to accomplish this object ; but by their impiety they 
weaken the energy of those inspiring principles that serve 
to ennoble, invigorate, and enlarge the public mind, and 
introduce principles that enervate and corrupt public senti- 
ment. They take away the heavenly defence and security 
of a people, and render it necessary for Him who ruleth 
among the nations by righteous things in judgment, to 
testify his displeasure against those who despise his laws 
and contemn his ordinances. In the present state of the 
world, fleets and armies are necessary means of security 
and defence ; but they will eventually prove a broken reed 
to the nation that despises the God of armies, and pours 
contempt upon his authority. There is no counsel, under- 
standing, or might against the Lord. The true fearer of 
God and worker of righteousness is the truest friend of his 


country, and the means of her defence ; and when such is 
the character of the rulers of any country, her renown will 
go forth among the nations, and she may look for national 
honor and prosperity. 

4 This subject directs the honest, independent, and patri- 
otic citizen in the exercise of his high birthright as a 
freeman, in giving his suffrage for civil rulers. This, 
though a natural right of man, is enjoyed but by a very 
small portion of our race. They who are distinguished by 
this high privilege ought to honor themselves by an honest 
and dignified exercise of it, and not carelessly despise their 
birthright, much less sell it at a less premium than a mess 
of pottage, to answer the party purposes of ambition, or 
pride, envy, or any other low passion. 

' The character of a nation, then, my friends, is decided 
by the character of its rulers, especially in a free and 
elective government. If the rulers of a people are men of 
principle, who fear God and own his statutes, the nation 
will be regarded in this approving light by Him who 
superintends the affairs of nations. Every friend to his 
country, in the choice of its civil rulers, should have his 
eye upon the faithful of the land, — upon such as fear God. 
It is to be expected, other things being equal, that we should 
give our suffrages for men whose political views accord 
with our own ; yet scarcely could that man vindicate his 
claim to the meed of patriotism who should give his suffrage • 
to a man, who had no other claim to the dignified station 
of a civil ruler, or who was destitute of the commanding 
influence of religious principle.'' 

A sermon which he preached before the general 
election, February 2Sth, 1796, upon the duty of 
republican citizens in the choice of their rulers, from 
the text, ' Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the 
land,' drew forth very severe animadversions from 
some person of the Democratic party, in an anony- 


mows pamphlet. Although many of Dr. Buckmin- 
ster's published sermons are occasional, and upon 
subjects of public and political interest, those of a 
domestic character have a more tender and intimate 

reference to life. 

A sermon upon domestic contentment, from the 
text, ' Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than 
a stalled ox and hatred therewith,' Prov. xv. 17, was 
printed, at the request of the young unmarried men 
of Portsmouth, to whom the doctrine of the discourse 
was peculiarly comfortable. The extracts that follow 
are from a sermon, also of a domestic character, 
preached at the ordination of Rev. James Thurston, 
at Manchester, 1809. 

4 " Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus 
John xi. 5. 

4 There are Christians of different degrees of amiableness, 
age, and stature. In this family, which was the object of 
our Saviour's special affection, there was a striking variety 
of disposition. They are described by an able pen. 

' Of Lazarus much is not said. He seems to have been 
a serious, solid, established professor of religion ; but the 
two sisters are more strongly marked, — more minutely 
•characterized. Mary, it is probable, had lately been called. 
She was full of those pleasing, but often transient, emotions 
which generally accompany the beginning of the Christian 
life. Wondering at the gracious words that proceeded out 
of his mouth, she sat at the feet of Jesus. The reverse of 
all this was the defect of Martha. She was anxious and 
eager. She was susceptible of domestic vanity, and there- 
fore too fond of parade and expensive entertainments, — 
cumbered about much serving. She was also fretful, and, 
by the loss of temper, betrayed into such indiscretion as to 
break in upon our Saviour's discourse, to complain to him 
of her sister's negligence, and bring upon herself his 


friendly reproof. Yet Jesus loved Martha as well as Mary. 
He knew her frame ; he saw kindness reigned in her heart, 
and that she was no less attached to him than her sister, 
though she had mistaken the best, the most acceptable way 
of expressing it. 

1 Religion, though divine and perfect in its origin and 
tendency, is human in its residence, and in its exercises 
it receives a tinge and complexion from the region that it 
occupies. If we withhold Christian affection till we find 
perfect characters, the world must ever want that evidence, 
by which, according to our Saviour's directions, they are to 
be assisted in discerning his real disciples. And should we 
not blush to demand what nothing but ignorance of our- 
selves could prevent our knowing that we could not proffer 
in return ? The reality of religion is not determined by 
the perfection, but the sincerity, of its subjects. The best 
of men are at best but men. The most advanced Christian 
is sanctified but in part ; and he who pretends to perfection 
is, by the highest authority, pronounced perverse. Yet we 
are not making an apology for sin. There is an essential 
difference of character between him who hath tasted that 
the Lord is gracious, who hath received Christ and believed 
in him, and he whose spiritual senses have never been 
exercised to discern the things of the Spirit of God. The 
former hates sin and loves holiness ; he is dead to sin, and 
alive to righteousness. He delights in the law of the Lord 
after the inner man. He receives with meekness the 
reproofs of wisdom, and tests his character by repentance 
and reformation. If we do not embrace such characters, 
with all their infirmities, in the arms of Christian charity, 
we neither imitate our Master nor respect his directions. 
He despises not the day of small things. The bruised reed 
he does not break. He gathers the lambs in his arms, and 
carries them in his bosom, and succors and defends the 
most helpless of the flock. He commands those that are 
stron^ to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please 
themselves ; to be tender and pitiful ; to receive him who 


is weak in virtue, and not perplex him with doubtful 
disputations. The Christian minister should cherish this 
disposition towards all the lambs and sheep of the fold, 
but it may be diversified in its exercise by all the various 
circumstances and characters of his people. " Jesus loved 
Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." 

' In this trait in our Saviour's character and ministry, 
we find an apology for what is often imputed to ministers as 
a fault. I mean a particularity, or what is called partiality, 
in our friendships and affections. Few ministers escape 
this charge, and fewer, perhaps, are free from deserving it ; 
but the history of our Saviour certainly excuses and justifies 
a kind and degree of partiality. While a minister is ready 
for every office of ministerial duty, and has a disinterested 
concern for all his people, and a Christian affection for such 
as wear the livery of Christ, he is not bound to receive all 
to equal intimacy, but may choose those who shall share his 
more especial friendship and confidence. Jesus, doubtless, 
had a sincere affection for all the Apostles, yet John is dis- 
tinguished as the disciple whom he preeminently loved ; and 
he gave him, both living and dying, marked tokens of his 
tender affection and confidence. John not only sat next him 
at meat, but leaned on his bosom. And, when hanging on 
the cross, Christ said to this disciple, " Behold thy mother ! 
and to her, Behold thy son ! and from that time this disciple 
took her to his own home." 

' Jesus was kind and attentive to all his followers, but 
this family in Bethany seems to have been the place of his 
frequent and most delightful resort. It is but just, however, 
to remark, that the ground of this preference and delight 
seems to be altogether laid in religion, and to be cemented 
by their spiritual improvement, and their delight in the 
company and conversation of the Saviour. If this be the 
discriminating line of our partialities, and we give the 
preference to scenes and circles where our appropriate 
duties and services are most acceptable, though partiality be 
imputed to us, we shall suffer little by the imputation. But 



if our preferences are influenced by a worldly spirit ; if the 
circles of amusement, of social pleasure, or animal indul- 
gence command our choice, and we have men's persons in 
admiration because of selfish advantage, we shall find noth- 
ing in the life or example of our Saviour to give us coun- 
tenance or excuse ; nor will it be easy to shield ourselves 
from reflections upon the genuineness of our affection, or the 
purity of our zeal. 

1 But did not the Saviour, it may be asked, attend festival 
occasions ? Did he not sup with the rich and honorable ? 
Assuredly ; and so may we. We are not to go out of the 
world, because we are not of it. Happy will it be for us, if, 
on these occasions, which duty and decorum call us to at- 
tend, we can so have the example of Christ shedding its 
influence upon us, that we may catch some favorable mo- 
ment to say something for his honor and the edification of 
our friends. Though Jesus did not decline nor refuse these 
occasions of festivity when they fell in his way, yet candor 
will acknowledge that he never coveted them, and that he 
ever converted them into purposes of religious and moral 
instruction. The bosom of his beloved family, the retreat 
at Bethany, had far superior delights for Christ. And the 
Christian minister in the retired circle of Christian friends, 
familiarly conversing and explaining the things of the king- 
dom, will think with more satisfaction upon the example of 
his Master, than when mingling in the common resorts of 
men, hearing or telling something new, or joining scenes of 
hilarity and amusement. " Jesus loved Martha, and her 
sister, and Lazarus," and he expressed this distinguishing 
affection by his familiar visits.' 

Near the conclusion of the sermon, he thus 
speaks : — 

4 From the tenor of this discourse, my Christian friends, 
you will conclude that I entertain fears that the private, 



social duties of our profession, the minor concerns of our 
office, command too little of our attention. If I mistake, or 
if the defects of one place do not apply to another, forgive 
me this wrong. But the general genius and taste of the 
present day for extravagant pleasures, — the prevalence of a 
love for elegance, splendor, and refinement, for literary dis- 
tinction and pulpit eloquence, — increase my suspicions. 
These ought to have their weight, and a share of our atten- 
tion ; but if the interviews with our people be suspended, or 
lose their religious cast and complexion, our people will lose 
a great part of the benefit of our "public instruction, which, 
like seed unwatched and unwatered, will yield but a scanty 
harvest. Is not private visiting the principal engine of sec- 
tarian success ? Wandering from house to house, filled with 
zeal for their peculiar principles and practices, they make them 
the subject of serious and familiar conversation in all fam- 
ilies and circles that will listen to them ; accompanying their 
instructions with great fervor of devotion and warm expres- 
sions of kindness for those who will join them. The tender 
and thoughtful receive this spirit of proselytism as the spirit 
of real religion, and thus they are seduced and led away 
from the footsteps of that flock which has belonged to the 
fold of Christ since the days of the Reformation.' 

We must indulge ourselves with one more extract, 
which shows the Christian liberality and the catholic 
spirit of Dr. Buckminster. It is from a sermon, 
preached at a time of great sectarian zeal, respecting 
the Baptists. 

4 The unity of the Church does not consist in a unity of 
sentiment upon points of doctrine, much less in uniformity 
of worship or modes of administering its ordinances ; but 
the unity of the Church consists in receiving and acknowl- 
edging Christ as its head, and submitting to all that we in 
conscience believe he has enjoined, — in partaking of his 


spirit, so that sin is confessed, forsaken, and abhorred, and 
holiness loved and pursued. Does not the Apostle support 
this sentiment, when he exhorts " to keep the unity of the 
spirit in the bond of peace"? All real Christians, doubt- 
less, agree in certain great leading points of doctrine ; but 
they may differ widely in their mode of explaining and en- 
forcing them. " They have all drunk into the same spirit," 
and are the subjects of similar exercises and affections ; but 
they may worship in very different forms, and have various 
opinions upon the rites and institutions of religion. We 
should therefore be careful that our zeal for the unity of the 
Church does not weaken its energy or destroy its beauty, 
and that our attachment to the mere form of administering 
instituted rites be not carried so far as to obstruct the en- 
largement of the Church. 

4 It is scarcely more reasonable to expect that men should 
be perfectly harmonious in religion, than in any other mat- 
ter that interests and affects their passions. Considering 
their different capacities, advantages, modes of education? 
habits of thinking, and prejudices from various sources, it is 
to be expected that they should have different views of truth 
and duty. And in the enjoyment of that extensive religious 
liberty with which this happy land is favored, and the uni- 
versal toleration of all sects, it is to be expected that differ- 
ent denominations should multiply among us, and support 
themselves with a zeal that is usually attendant upon novelty, 
and on a separation from long established principles and 
forms. When success attends these, and they spread and 
increase, other denominations are apt to kindle with the fire 
of envy and jealousy, and to cherish a disposition to forbid 
and suppress them. But the instruction of our Master is, 
" Forbid them not." If they acknowledge Christ as their 
Lord and Master, and partake of his spirit, rejoice in the 
good that is done, whatever irregularities attend the doing of 
it. Every enlightened Christian is fully persuaded in his 
own mind that the way in which he worships God is most 


agreeable to his revealed will ; but he is not to denounce 
those who differ from him, nor think that they cannot be 
accepted of God, while they conscientiously worship accord- 
ing to the light and understanding they have ; nor should 
they refuse to such the tokens of Christian fellowship, nor 
forbid their exertions to promote the common cause of 

The extracts which have been given from Dr. 
Buckminster's sermons may hardly be thought to 
justify or to account for the popularity which usually 
accompanied and followed his preaching ; or to bear 
out the assertion made by a surviving member of the 
Piscataqua Association, that the associate at whose 
house the ministers assembled more frequently selected 
him to preach than any other, and that he was always 
admired by the people. In answer it may be said, 
that, as his manuscript sermons were written in a 
short hand now impossible to decipher, the selections 
could only be made from his printed sermons ; that 
these were upon political subjects, or upon occasions 
which did not admit of that spontaneous and impas- 
sioned eloquence for which he was most admired in 
the village pulpits. His habit was, at the close of his 
sermon, when he was thoroughly imbued with his 
subject, to throw his notes aside, and give way to 
that spontaneous flow of thought which gushed up 
from his ardent soul. This led to impassioned ap- 
peals to the conscience, to the hopes and the fears, of 
his audience. In his printed sermons there are few 
traces of that vivid imagination and ardent tempera- 
ment which distinguished his extemporaneous per- 

Connected with his public ministrations was the 


deep interest he took in the musical part of the wor- 
ship of the Sabbath. Almost his only recreation was 
the promotion of the singing of his society. For 
this purpose the choir were very frequently invited to 
meet at his house. There was a large room in the 
parsonage, originally intended for private lectures; 
but as Dr. Buckminster never held these in his own 
house, the room was rarely opened except for the 
accommodation of the singers, and he was exhilarated 
and delighted when there was a full choir, and a tune 
or an anthem was well performed. 

In relation to this subject, a characteristic anecdote 
is told of him. Musicians are proverbially sensitive, 
easily wounded, and apt to take offence. Upon one 
occasion, the pastor, or the singers, or the parish, had 
unconsciously given offence, and the whole choir de- 
serted at once, without the least intimation of their 
purpose, leaving the seats empty on Sunday morning. 
After reading the hymn as usual, and finding no voice 
raised, he stepped again into the speaker's desk, and 
began to sing alone. His voice was of a peculiarly 
sweet and silvery tone, and thrilled through the 
whole building, and touched every heart. He sang 
the whole of the first stanza alone, but at the begin- 
ning of the second some timid voices were heard 
joining in from different parts of the audience ; one 
after another the voices were tuned, and before the 
hymn was finished the whole congregation united in 
one burst of music. It was remarked that the sing- 
ing had never been so agreeable, and that the society 
could dispense with the services of the choir. The 
next Sunday all were in their places, and, it is 



believed, with no explanation and no complaint from 
the pastor. 

During these years of Dr. Buckminster's ministry , 
events and circumstances touching more intimately 
his private ministerial duties took place. In the 
months of August and September, 1798, a putrid ma- 
lignant fever, like the yellow-fever of Philadelphia 
and New Orleans, prevailed in Portsmouth. It was 
confined to the part of the town where most of the 
members of the North parish dwelt, and many of his 
most valued parishioners were attacked. Consterna- 
tion and terror prevailed throughout the town, and 
numerous families rushed into the neighboring vil- 
lages, as they did formerly from the plague in Lon- 
don. In the course of less than three months one 
hundred and seven persons died in a population of 
about five thousand. In the midst of the universal 
dismay, the physicians of the town were stricken 
down by the disease. My father remained with 
his family, and used every proper means to pre- 
vent the calamity from spreading. He was always, 
from early morning to midnight, among the sick, 
serving and watching, performing the part of phy- 
sician and nurse, as well as that of spiritual comforter. 
Often, in one day, after having spent the night with 
the afflicted, and closing the eyes of the dying, he 
was obliged to array the dead in the garments of the 
tomb, to accompany them to their last resting-place, 
and to speak words of comfort and peace to sorrow- 
ing and trembling relatives. From thence he re- 
turned wearied and exhausted to his family ; but not 
till he had changed every garment, and submitted to 


the processes for counteracting contagion. His meet- 
ing-house was not closed, as was the case with many 
others ; he preached every Sunday, and devoted 
every other hour to his sick and dying friends, of 
whom some were among the most valuable of his 
parishioners ; but his own family, with himself, 
escaped all illness. 

Until after his death there was no division between 
the Congregational churches of Portsmouth. The 
epithets Orthodox and Liberal, Calvinist and Uni- 
tarian, were unknown between them. Not the most 
remote insinuation is intended that the former state of 
things was better than the present, for though union 
is better than disunion, i disunion may indicate a 
better state of things than is indicated by concord.' 
Perhaps it may be mentioned, as an unusual act of 
liberality in another denomination, that the members 
of the Episcopal society, the day after the fire that 
consumed St. John's Church, met in Dr. Buck- 
minster's meeting-house. It was Christmas day, and 
they were without a Rector. The service was read by 
one of their own number, and my father preached 
from the words, ' Our holy and our beautiful house, 
where our fathers worshipped thee, is burnt up with 
fire.' His sermon, from its sympathy and appro- 
priateness, gave great satisfaction. There were other 
Christmas days when this church was without a 
Rector that he was invited to preach, and the liber- 
ality that asked and the courtesy that answered the 
demand were mutual. 

In the mean time there were divisions in another 
form which gave him much pain and perplexity. 
About the beginning of the century a zealous and 


effective, but very violent, Baptist preacher came to 
Portsmouth, and made a strong impression there, 
dividing the congregations and taking from Dr. Buck- 
minster's society some of his most valuable friends 
and church-members. The two divines entered into 
a written controversy upon the subject of adult and 
infant baptism, each supporting his side of the argu- 
ment with ability. At the close of the controversy, 
Dr. Buckminster preached three sermons upon the 
subject, which were printed, from one of which ser- 
mons an extract appears upon a preceding page. 

Such an experience is one of the severest trials to 
which a sensitive and conscientious minister can be 
subjected. It requires truly Christian liberality, and 
a catholic spirit which rejoices in good, however 
done, to see those for whose welfare he has earnestly 
labored turn from him after years of friendship, — to 
see the tender seeds of piety spring up and ripen in 
hearts that he has watched and guarded for many 
years, and, just as the fruit is ready to be gathered, 
one who has neither sown nor watered come in and 
reap the harvest. 

The extracts which have been given from his ser- 
mons are a very inadequate and imperfect representa- 
tion of Dr. Buckminster's power in the pulpit. The 
pathos of his voice, his earnestness of expression in 
the beseeching appeals to the heart and conscience, 
uttered with a power that would have spread terror 
in the audience, if they had not been immediately 
succeeded by pathetic entreaty to come to the foun- 
tain of refreshing waters, and to seek mercy from 
Him who is ready to save, cannot be represented by 
any description. His appeals to the audience re- 


minded one of eloquent passages in the sermons of 
Bossuet. To borrow the words of a contemporary. 
— • It was no compliment to him to say that his 
preaching was eagerly sought by the parishes in 
neighboring villages. When it was known that he 
was expected to preach, no weather, however tem- 
pestuous, and no distance, however great, would keep 
the farmers' families from the Sabbath worship. The 
village meeting-house was crowded with a rapt and 
eager audience. Old people shed tears when they 
recollected and mentioned sermons they had heard 
from him in his youth, and hymns that he had read 
with peculiar pathos were cherished in the memory 
and repeated many years afterwards. His prayers 
were spoken of by the aged as having comforted and 
raised the spirit far above the cares of earth ; they 
brought conviction to the sinner, peace to the con- 
trite, and a soothing tranquillity to the mourning 

In speaking of my father's ministerial gifts, I 
have quoted the opinions of contemporaries, and 
relied upon the representations of others. A letter 
from the Hon. Daniel Webster, who was, during his 
residence in Portsmouth, a member of his church and 
a constant attendant upon his preaching, speaks of 
him thus : — 'Of your father, his power and elo- 
quence, his appearance in and out of the pulpit, his 
graceful manners, his agreeable social habits, the fer- 
vor and glow of his pulpit performances, I have a 
most lively and distinct recollection.' 

Another,* the venerable survivor of the Piscataqua 

* Rev. Jonathan French, of North Hampton, N. H. 


Association of Ministers of Dr. Buckminster's time, 
speaks of him in the following manner : — 

' I revered and loved him. His memory is veiy precious 
to me. But you will need nothing from my recollections in 
describing his noble person, his frank, intelligent, dignified, 
kind, and cheerful countenance, his unaffected and engaging 
manners, his purity and stability of character, his unvarying 
uprightness, his fidelity in the performance of his Christian 
and ministerial duties, and the habitual life of piety which 
in him was always apparent. 

' He stood very high in the opinion and affections of the 
Piscataqua Association. With nothing in his deportment 
which savored of self-seeking, he was venerated and be- 
loved by his brethren, and admired by their people. At a 
period when ministers of the Association selected for them- 
selves the preachers for their several public occasional 
meetings, Dr. Buckminster oftener than any of his brethren 
was called upon to preach. I heard him frequently, and on 
various subjects. The matter and the manner of his dis- 
courses were always eminently instructive and interesting.' 

The Rev. Dr. Lowell, still pastor of the West 
Church in Boston, who may be supposed to differ in 
some points from Mr. French, coincides with him in 
regard and admiration for Dr. Buckminster. He thus 
expresses his opinion and his reminiscences : — 

4 1 do not know that I have been acquainted with one of 
Dr. Buckminster's profession, who impressed me with a 
deeper conviction of a sincere and heartfelt devotion to the 
duties of his sacred office than he did. There was nothing 
of trifling or levity about him, and nothing of austerity. 
He was grave, but not gloomy ; certainly not habitually so. 
I have always supposed that his natural disposition was a 
cheerful one, and that, though it was sobered and chastened 
by his religion and his trials, it was not essentially changed. 



1 In his person he was tall ; in his manners refined and 
dignified, with a countenance indicative of high mental 
superiority, as well as acute sensibility, with the kindest 
affections. And he possessed all these. He was a remark- 
able man. Had he been ambitious of any other distinction 
than that of a faithful minister of Jesus Christ in the com- 
paratively contracted sphere in which Providence had placed 
him, he would have attained, I am persuaded, to great emi- 

; In his preaching, he dwelt often upon the terrors of the 
law, but if, as he should do, he made the violated law 
speak out its thunders, by him, " in strains as sweet as 
angels use, the Gospel whispered peace." With his talents, 
and unction, and noble presence, and clear, sonorous, flex- 
ible voice, he could not fail to be an impressive preacher.' 

To these I must be permitted to add one more ex- 

' No one could be once in the presence of Dr. Buckmin- 
ster and ever forget him. His noble and eminently striking 
countenance, faultless in its symmetrical beauty, his dignified 
and graceful manners, made a deep impression, even before 
his conversation had allowed one to form an opinion of his 
eminent talents.' 

The most interesting part of his character was not 
understood except by his own family. After the 
death of his first wife, he was plunged for many 
months in deep gloom. His second wife, after the 
first two or three years of her married life, was almost 
always an invalid, and occupied in rearing a young 
family. From these causes she led a life of seclu- 
sion, so that there was not that frequent intercourse 
between the pastor's family and the younger members 
of the parish which would have enabled them to see 


him in the most interesting relations of life, where 
his tenderness and kindness would have won their 
love, even more than his public ministrations com- 
manded their reverence. Of his domestic character 
only those who lived under the same roof, and wit- 
nessed the spirit of accommodation, the deep, fervent, 
but delicate and forbearing love in every family 
relation, the genial humor, the playful familiarity 
with which he treated his elder children, the patience 
and winning tenderness he showed the little ones, 
could know that, whatever reverence he might com- 
mand in public, his fervent sensibility was the most 
attractive trait in his character. The moment his 
clear and musical voice was heard, the children were 
wild with impatient joy to be in his presence ; and 
then the infant was in his arms, the smaller children 
were climbing his knees ; and in their infantile com- 
plaints, no one had the power of soothing like himself. 
The youngest child was sent from home to nurse ; 
the distance was perhaps half a mile ; every day 
during the winter, when the snow or rain did not 
actually descend with violence, the little girl was 
brought home in her father's arms, and carried back 
again in the afternoon by the same tender guardian. 
And, with all his tenderness of feeling, it was his 
deep sense of duty, of parental responsibility, that 
made him so careful, so incessantly watchful, over his 

His habits were as exact as frequent domestic in- 
terruptions, with a large family, could permit them to 
be. He had almost a passionate love for gardening, 
and in summer the rising sun usually found him 
there. His were always the earliest pease, cucum- 


bers, etc., and when his little girls were old enough, 
he assisted them to keep their small flower-borders 
rich and fragrant with early blossoms. In the winter, 
the wood-pile was substituted in the early morning 
instead of exercise in the garden ; and young men, 
students of law in Portsmouth, among them Daniel 
Webster himself, were invited to join him in sawing 
wood. I believe, however, that, after one trial, they 
gave him no opportunity to repeat the invitation. 

It was his unfailing practice to finish his sermons 
before noon on Saturday, and the afternoon of that 
day was given to visiting the sick or afflicted of the 
parish ; other afternoons of the week were devoted to 
general visiting. Those who had long been unable 
to attend meeting depended upon their Saturday after- 
noon visit, and were in the habit of saying that their 
Sabbath began at the hour when their pastor came to 
pray with them. 

I should leave a beautiful trait of Dr. Buckmin- 
ster's character untouched, did I omit to mention his 
tender and respectful attentions to the aged. The 
parents of his second wife dwelt at York, on the 
Maine side of the Piscataqua River, eight miles dis- 
tant from Portsmouth. Madam Lyman was a most 
lovely example of attractive old age. She retained 
the vivacity, the quickness of perception, the gentle 
dignity, and the winning sweetness, which we are 
apt to think belong exclusively to the younger periods 
of life. She had been educated by Mr. Moody of 
York, one of the distinguished Puritan divines of 
our country, and she was familiar with the old Eng- 
lish poets ; quotations from which she would fre- 
quently introduce into familiar conversation. It may 



be thought that this would have a ludicrous air of 
pedantry ; but the quotations were so appropriate, so 
evidently suggested by the topic, that they lost their 
formal air, and seemed, from her lips, the only thing 
that could be said upon the subject ; her son-in-law 
would often meet her quotations with others of a 
humorous description, as he was almost as familiar 
with poetry as herself. Dr. Buckminster visited these 
aged relatives as often as once in two or three weeks, 
and showed, by his respectful gallantry to his charm- 
ing step-mother, ' that sixty was winning, as well as 

The impression may have been made in the early 
part of this memoir that he was subject to constant 
depression of spirits. No impression could be more 
erroneous. Only at two or three periods, during the 
whole course of his life, did he suffer from nervous 
depression. At all other times he was a most cheer- 
ful and fascinating companion. His company was 
sought by young and old, and, in all social visiting, 
the pastor's presence was indispensable to the cheer- 
fulness of the occasion. Parties were not then so 
large but that each one might enter into the amuse- 
ment of the whole. His imagination was so lively, 
his conversation so rich and varied, he was so happy 
in allusions to subjects that arrested the attention, 
and made a lasting impression of something valuable, 
even when amusement alone had been sought, that it 
may be safely asserted that his character, in its beauty 
and goodness, was as eloquent a sermon as those that 
fell from his lips on the Sabbath ; and his benignant 
countenance spoke a benediction upon all who looked 
upon it. 


His remarkable iinwo-rldliness, and his persuasion 
that sentiment is the treasure-house of happiness, and 
that young ministers especially should have in reserve 
for the peculiar trials of their calling, the domestic 
affections, to fall back upon as the surest of all 
resources, made him think lightly of pecuniary cares. 
He used to encourage his brethren, when their means 
were scanty, to give themselves to their appropriate 
work, and to confide in the Providence of God. He 
said, 'As a general thing, it is with ministers in regard 
to their livings as with the Israelites of old in gath- 
ering manna. They gather, some more, some less. 
He that gathers much has nothing over, and he that 
gathers little has no lack.' 

A few of his familiar letters to his daughters close 
the chapter. 

4 June, 1801. 

4 My dear Daughters : — It is unreasonable to expect 
that you should know how much interested your parents are 
in your welfare, or how anxious they are that you should 
pass the critical and most important period of youth so as 
to leave no painful or humiliating reflection for years of 
more mature life. We are thankful that God has given 
you (for we are indebted to him for all we have) healthy 
constitutions, and that degree of understanding that gives us 
reason to hope, that, if you are not wanting to yourselves, 
you may pass through the ordinary stations of life with 
reputation to yourselves, and with comfort and usefulness 
to your friends. You have passed the more playful season 
of youth, and are now in the seed-time of life, and as you 
sow, so will you reap. While you are endeavoring to 
cultivate and improve your minds, remember it is all with 
the ultimate view of improving your hearts. Hate every 
immorality. Cherish an habitual sense of the presence of 


God, and know that his eye is always upon you. He has 
said, " I love them that love me, and they who seek me 
early shall find me." Do not live without daily prayer. 
Do not profane the Sabbath by entering into any amusement 

unbecoming the day 

' My dear children, I am anxious for you, and would do 
every thing in my power to promote and secure your present 
and future felicity. If you are wise, my heart will rejoice ; 
if you are vain, foolish, and frivolous, you will multiply the 
gray hairs on my head, and the sorrows in my heart. To 
God I have often commended and do again commend you, 
and pray that he would give you wisdom and grace.' 

' July, 1801. 

'My dear Daughters, — The continued illness of your 
mother rendering it inconvenient for her to write, I will 
not let slip this favorable opportunity of addressing you. 
Doubtless your situation, at this period of your life, is highly 
agreeable to you both, and I hope it will be improving ; but 
this depends very much upon yourselves, upon your resolu- 
tion and unremitting care to form your manners, to repress 
every awkward and ungraceful habit, to study what will 
make you agreeable and useful to others, and qualify you 
to act, not a frivolous and dissipated, but a dignified and 
useful, part in life. Your dear mother used to say, that it 
was not any one particular act or motion that characterized 
the lady. It was not to walk well, to sit well, to stand well, 
or even to talk well ; it was the whole general effect of 
every action, and motion, and word, that constituted and 
formed the agreeable whole ; — 

" The thousand decencies that flow 
From all her words and actions." 

8 There is danger, from all that you may see and hear 
from young ladies collected from the different ranks and 
walks of life, that you may imbibe prejudices against the 
regular, retired, domestic life which you have hitherto lived, 


and that you may contract a fondness for gayety and fri- 
volity. But be assured, my daughters, if contentment and 
happiness are objects of desire with women, at any period 
of life, they miss their aim if they live a life of folly, frolic, 
or frivolity. If we were to live here for ever, there would 
be no contentment in such a life ; but when we consider that 
a few years must terminate our residence on earth, and then 
we must give an account of the deeds done in the body, it is 
the extreme of folly and stupidity. We are willing you 
should share in the innocent amusements of your years, but 
wish you to remember that your object should be to endeavor 
to prepare to be useful in life, to minister to the comfort of 
your connections, and the support of religion. Be good and 
obedient to your instructors, careful observers of their plea- 
sure, condescending and affectionate to your companions ; 
but be not dupes to their follies or whims. Be always merry 
and wise. I am willing you should amuse yourselves, but 
be serious and remember you are old enough not only to 
say, but to pray, your prayers. 

1 Your affectionate father.' 

Although there are some scores of such letters as 
the above, addressed to his daughters while they 
were at boarding-school, only a very few have been 
selected, as a more faithful impression of Dr. Buck- 
minster's character is given by inserting those letters 
that are more directly upon the subject of religion. 

The tenderness of the father for his daughters in- 
creased as he advanced in life. One of his younger 
girls having been sent to Boston, for the purpose of 
attending a dancing-school for one quarter, the anx- 
ious father wrote to her at least every week, and 
sometimes more frequently. 



\ August 22d, 1808. 

'My dear F., — Having no mother to write to you and 
advise you, you must suffer a father, as far as he is able, to 
attempt to supply that inexpressible loss, and I am persuaded, 
my love, that you will respect his counsel. My object in 
sending you to dancing-school is not so much that you may 
learn to dance, as that your manners may be formed, and 
that you may be able to conduct yourself with propriety. 
I was very much gratified to receive a letter from you, the 
first you have ever written to papa ; it came safe, and was 
a very pretty letter. I noticed that it appeared to be written 
in a great hurry, but such things will happen when ladies 
are full of business and full of cares. Though I am desirous 
you should have an education that will enable you to appear 
without blushing in the society of your equals, and form you 
to be useful and agreeable, yet my principal concern should 
be that you may be educated to know God and Jesus Christ, 
and be trained up to fear, love, and serve him. I hope, my 
daughter, you will not forget the religious education you 
have received, nor neglect to read the Bible every day, and 
pray to God to take care of you, and bless you, and keep 
you from offending him, while you are growing up to serve 
him in this ensnaring world. Be sure I shall pray for you, 
love, eveiy day, and it would be a pleasure to me to know 
that you prayed for your father and your brothers and 
sisters. I hope they pray for you. I know they love you. 
Be a good girl, and every body will love you. 

1 1 hope you will retain your affection for Portsmouth, 
and, though contented wherever you stay, you will always 
give the preference to your father's house till you get one 
of your own. 

1 1 preached yesterday to my people from Timothy's 
knowing the Scriptures from a child. He was an excellent 
youth, and this early religious knowledge was a principal 
cause of his excellence. The Bible gives good directions 
for our worldly comfort and prosperity, and it is the only 


book that shows how sinners may be forgiven and made 
happy. It says, and there never was a juster saying, that 
"favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that 
feareth the Lord, she shall be honored ! " 

'We all send love, from the oldest to the youngest, by 

1 Your affectionate father.' 

' September 2d, 1808. 

'My dear F., — I have so many cares and avocations, 
that I have but little time to write. I am sorry, when you 
have so much time on hand, that you should stand upon 
punctilios with papa. If you knew how much I love you, 
and am concerned for your welfare, you would think of 
me every day, pray for me when you prayed for yourself, 
and write to me whenever you could. I send you a little 
book with an address on one of the blank leaves from your 
dear father's heart ; if you have never seen it, I hope it 
will please you ; if you have seen it, yet, for your father's 
sake and your own, you will read it again and again. But 
there is no book, my dear Frances, like the Bible. Let no 
business nor pleasure, no company nor care, prevent your 
reading and recollecting some part of it every day. Other 
books may make us wise for this world, but this, believed 
and obeyed, will make us wise to salvation, through faith 
that is in Jesus Christ. If others neglect the Bible, or speak 
lightly of it, O, do not you ! Remember who has said, 
" What shall it profit a man to gain the whole world and 
lose his own soul ? " 

' I find you have a desire, my little daughter, to attend 
the dancing-school ball, and I would not so far thwart your 
inclinations as to forbid it ; but I would caution you against 
thinking that to figure at a ball is any essential part of a 
lady's education, who intends to form the refined and ele- 
vated character which I hope it will be the ambition of my 
daughters to attain. No lady is at any time more respected 
for distinguishing herself in these sportive exhibitions. I 


sent you to dancing-school, in the hope that you would 
acquire an easiness of manners that would render you 
graceful and respectable in the formal or the family circles 
that you may be connected with in life. 

' I presume, by your letter to one of your sisters, that you 
have been to the theatre. I hope the edge of your curiosity 
is taken off, and that once will suffice for such an amuse- 
ment. The theatre, my dear daughter, is a dangerous 
place for young women, although it is the fashion to praise 
it, and talk about those who distinguish themselves there. 
Yet who esteems an actor upon the stage ? Who ever 
came home from a play better fitted in mind or heart to 
read the Bible, pray to God, and lie down upon his bed 
prepared for sleep or death ? 

4 Your affectionate father, 






1804. Nearly a year had passed since the cor- 

Aged 20. respondence we have inserted between the 
father and son,* and while domestic cares pressed 
heavily upon the former, the sorest of all his disap- 
pointments was the wavering and unsettled faith of 
his son upon some doctrines which the father believed 
essential to true piety, to the culture of the religious 
affections, and to all usefulness and success in the 
profession he had chosen. 

It has been seen that my brother did not pursue his 
studies in the customary manner, which, as there 
were no schools of theology at that time, was usually 
by residing in the family of a clergyman, and study- 
ing divinity, as law and physic were studied, under 
the direction of a master. As the study of divinity 
was almost wholly technical, that is, the study of the 
forms and phraseology which the divine science had 
taken in the hands of man, two or three years was 
ample time to furnish a candidate. He seems early 
to have taken a more liberal view of the studies 
requisite to his profession. In one of his college 

* Pages 137-155. 


themes there is a humorous description of the manner 
of finishing a candidate for the ministry. He, on 
the contrary, thought that no culture could be too 
generous for this, in his estimation, the most noble of 
professions ; that every branch of human knowledge 
should contribute to form and enrich his mind who 
was to address every class of persons, upon subjects 
the most momentous and of imperishable value. And 
as the preparation could not be too liberal, so the 
acquirements and the additions to his rich stores of 
preparation should never cease, but go on augment- 
ing to the end of life. 

His father retained the old-fashioned idea, that it 
was indispensable for a student of divinity to live 
with a clergyman already settled, and learn ministerial 
duties from his example. That my brother's studies 
were pursued in a manner different from the usual 
course is undoubtedly true ; but with the privilege of 
obtaining books from the College library, which he 
could not. have enjoyed by residing in a remote coun- 
try village, the society of the learned of all professions, 
and the excitement of mind that is obtained in all 
literary pursuits, where the chain of thought is ke^t 
bright by the perpetual collision of different intellects, 
must have more than counterbalanced the advantages 
of private instruction in ministerial duties. There is 
also a class of duties for which little preparation of the 
intellect can be received from books or from instruc- 
tion. To comfort the afflicted and bereaved, to soothe 
the guilty or agitated soul, to support with tender 
sympathy the lonely mind as it approaches the gate 
of death, to be what Jesus was to the sisters and 
Lazarus, the heart itself is the best, and perhaps the 


only, instructor. He who does not feel, cannot teach 
upon such occasions ; — the silent pressure of the hand 
from a heart deeply moved is better than whole vol- 
umes of formal consolation. 

There are, fortunately, the means of showing, from 
a journal of his studies, kept very exactly, the year 
previous to his settlement in Brattle Street, that his 
reading was extensive, comprehensive, and most con- 
scientious, and that in compliance with his father's 
advice, he faithfully studied Orthodox writers. He 
made an accurate analysis of most of the books that 
he studied, which is too long to be inserted here. 
The part of the journal which is afterwards inserted 
is from December, 1803, to December, 1804. It 
probably gives a fair account of his manner and 
course of study, and the theological student of the 
present day can judge how far it would have been 
better to have yielded to his father's earnest advice, 
to put himself under the guidance of some settled or 
aged minister. No doubt, the helps that students 
have since derived from the introduction and trans- 
lation of German theology, the study of the German 
language, the various learned and critical reviews, 
which were then almost unknown, the establishment 
of professorships and schools, — the impulse given 
to theological studies by all these aids would have 
been of incalculable advantage to him, — would have 
abridged his labor and cheered him on his solitary 
path. During this whole year, also, he was harassed 
and distressed by his father's disapproval of his method 
of study, and by the withholding of his consent to 
his advancement in his profession. This alone must 
have thrown disheartening uncertainty over all his 


pursuits ; and if he could have been discouraged, it 
would have turned him aside from that which he 
always felt was the sure direction and leading of 

How sad are the reflections that follow from read- 
ing the record of his studies ! He had learned the 
mastery of his tools, and had laid out a great plan 
upon a world-wide area, lengthening out, also, to the 
end of life, where the ardor of pursuit would never 
flag. And had a long and healthful life been allotted 
him, his favorite passion would have cheated it of its 
loneliness. 'And what,' as he said of another, 'might 
not have been expected from him, had he enjoyed 
the lights that have been thrown upon criticism and 
theology since his death ? ' 

Notwithstanding the matter seemed finally settled, 
in the last letters that passed between father and son, 
the friends of the latter, in Boston and Cambridge, 
still urged him to preach. In the beginning of Sep- 
tember he visited Portsmouth, and we infer, as the 
subject was not again mentioned, that he satisfied his 
father's scruples so far as to obtain his consent to his 
preaching. There seems to have been a silent con- 
sent between father and son, that differences of opin- 
ion should sink away, and that they should stand 
together, although on opposite sides of theological 
ground, firm to both of them, joining hands across 
the abyss that separated them ; the father trusting 
to time to fill the chasm, the son to parental tender- 
ness to overlook it. 

My brother makes this entry in his journal, in Sep- 
tember, 1804 : — ' Returned from Portsmouth ten days 



ago. By the persuasion of Boston friends, and the 
consent of my father, I recommence preaching. Last 
Sabbath of September preached for Mr. Cushing of 
Waltham, Matthew xi. 29 : " Learn of me, for I am 
meek and lowly of heart." What its issue will be 
I know not. If I could satisfy myself and my father 
better in undertaking this work, I should go on with 
a lighter heart, notwithstanding the peculiar diffi- 
culties of my situation.' A number of the leading 
men of the Brattle Street society went to Waltham 
upon this occasion to hear his first sermon, and the 
result was another pressing invitation to preach for 
that society. 

On October 21st, 1804, he preached for the first 
time at Brattle Street. After the entry of this fact 
in his journal, he adds, — 'May I dare to say, Deo 
juvante! ' The people of Brattle Street Church were 
very prompt in their measures. At their next meet- 
ing it was voted unanimously, ' That the committee 
for supplying the pulpit be requested to invite Mr. 
Buckminster to preach to us four Sabbaths, upon pro- 
bation, with a view to settle as our minister.' Upon 
which he received the following letter from the chair- 
man : — ■ 

4 Sir, — As chairman of the committee for supplying the 
pulpit in the parish of Brattle Street in Boston, I have the 
pleasure to transmit to you the inclosed vote of that society. 

1 From the unanimity that prevailed when the vote was 
passed, it may be considered as a leading step towards 
forming a connection which I hope will promote their 
interest and your happiness. The office of minister to this 
ancient society will be an office of care and anxiety ; but, 
from the character of the parish, 1 think you may reason- 



ably conclude that you will for ever receive from its 
members all the candor and support necessary to your 
station as a minister. 

' I remain, with ardent wishes for your health and useful- 
ness, your sincere friend and humble servant, 

' James Sullivan.' 

In his answer, Mr. Buck minster says : — ' In pursu- 
ance of this vote, I consider myself engaged to supply 
the desk in Brattle Street for four Sabbaths ; but I 
wish that this engagement may not be considered as 
an expression or intimation of a final determination 
in consequence of any future proceedings of the 

It may, perhaps, excite surprise in those unac- 
quainted with our society, to find the Brattle Street 
Church so ready to invite as their pastor a young 
man of only twenty years, and he so prompt to accept 
such large and heavy responsibilities. It had been 
the habit of the place, and of Brattle Street especially, 
to call very young men, and, if they were found 
inadequate, to give them an assistant preacher, and 
that the society proposed to do in this instance. It 
must be recollected, also, that my brother, though 
young in age, had been four years preparing for his 
profession, and that he had a strong conviction that 
only a short time would be allowed him in which 
to complete his work. 

His preaching, together with that of Rev. W. E. 
Charming, who had just been settled in Federal 
Street, was said by Dr. Kirkland to have formed an 
era in the history of the pulpit. The sermons of the 
New England divines had hitherto been rather com- 
mentaries upon Christian doctrines : or, if upon ethical 


subjects, they were supported by a long array of 
texts of Scripture ; argumentative they were, and 
requiring the closest attention and exercise of the 
intellect to be appreciated and understood. They 
were not glowing essays addressed to the intellect, 
the heart, and the affections, like the sermons of 
Channing, who had just begun his brilliant career, 
and whose thoughtful and fervid eloquence drew to 
him crowds of devoted and admiring listeners. A 
contemporary thus speaks of Mr. Buckminster : — 'I 
cannot attempt to describe the delight and wonder 
with which his first sermons were listened to by all 
classes of hearers. The most refined and the least 
cultivated equally hung upon his lips. The attention 
of the thoughtless was fixed. The gayety of youth 
was composed to seriousness ; the mature, the aged, 
the most vigorous and enlarged minds, were at once 
charmed, instructed, and improved.' * 

Many gifts for a pulpit orator were united in him, 
but there was one quality that made his preaching 
so eminently effective. It was intellectual sincerity. 
The truths he enforced were not only clear to his 
heart and beautiful to his imagination ; they were the 
strongest faith of his intellect. He not only loved the 
truths he preached for their softening and civilizing 
influence ; he believed likewise that they were the 
power of God unto salvation. This entire conviction 
of the intellect is aside from moral purity or pious 
affections ; it is to the soul what the breath of life is 
to the body. 

His father, hearing the flattering reports of his 

* Mr. Thacher's Memoir. 


preaching, writes to him in a strain calculated to 
chasten the pride of applause, and apparently without 
any elation himself. 

' Dec. 3d, 1804. 

4 My dear Son, Common fame speaks of your 

preaching with general acceptance. This was to be antici- 
pated from the expectation that was raised about you, but 
nothing is more fickle than the applause of the multitude, 
excited by showy talents. Be not elated. Your own letter 
intimates that your friends natter you that the society to 
which you are preaching will be united in you. If they 
are understandingly united, your wishes may perhaps be 
gratified. Do not, my son, trust to the favor of man ; look 
to God, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift ; 
and may he bless you, soul and body, for time and for 
eternity ! ' 

On November 10, 1804, the society in Brattle Street 
voted, with only one dissentient voice, to invite him 
to become its pastor. The proceedings of the society 
were as follows : — ' Judge Sullivan, Moderator. Major 
Melville made a motion that Mr. Buckminster should 
be invited to preach four Sabbaths, with a view to 
settlement. Seconded by H. G. Otis. A unanimous 
vote. Mr. Cooper observed that he was not suffi- 
ciently informed of Mr. B.'s orthodoxy, and threw out 
hints of Arianism and Socinianism. Judge Sullivan 
. observed that he assented to the church covenant. 
Mr. Hancock observed that he had no fears. Mr. 
Cooper desired a day of prayer. It was overruled. 
The committee of the parish were desired to make 
the necessary preparations to expedite a settlement in 
case the call was accepted.' 

Thus we see, that, in this ancient and orthodox 


church, there was no concealment. All was openly 
conducted. The candidate's answer was given upon 
the second succeeding Sabbath. He does not attempt 
to conceal the gratification he felt in finding his ser- 
vices so highly appreciated by them ; but, not having 
completed his twenty-first year, his youth induces 
him to propose that a colleague should be settled 
with him. 

4 Gentlemen, — No rule of propriety or delicacy requires 
me to forbear all expression of pleasure at the testimonies 
of approbation and good-will which have marked the pro- 
ceedings of your society ; neither am I sensible of any 
advantage which would result from the longer delay of an 
answer to an invitation adopted with such unanimity, and 
recommended by such encouragement. But while I give 
you this early intimation that I have concluded to accept 
your proposals, I should be unfaithful to you and to myself, 
if I did not express my apprehensions that you will be 
called to overlook many deficiencies, and to excuse many 
mistakes, in one whose youth and consequent inexperience, 
united with precarious health, will ask for a continuance 
of all the indulgence which his past intercourse with you 
encourages him to expect. 

4 If, in the course of events, an opportunity should occur 
of associating with me another pastor, much of our mutual 
anxiety might be relieved, and the interests of a numerous 
society judiciously consulted. But if the cause of Christ 
should not be found to suffer from the insufficiency of my 
single efforts, I trust I shall be disposed to thank that God, 
in whose strength alone the weak are strong, in whose 
wisdom the inexperienced are wise, and with whose blessing 
the most feeble labors will not prove unsuccessful. If God 
should spare my life, I hope some of its most cheerful and 
permanent consolations will be found in the uninterrupted 
harmony, the increasing affection, and the spiritual improve- 



ment of this large society. To instruct the ignorant, to 
reclaim the wandering, to console the afflicted, to reconcile 
the alienated, to declare the whole counsel of God, and, 
at the same time, to give no offence in any thing, that the 
ministry be not blamed, are duties which no paster can 
even partially perform, unless encouraged by your utmost 
charity and aided by your public and private prayers. 

' For these, then, I ask, and may that God who has 
hitherto blessed the religious interests of your society in 
granting you a succession of luminaries whose light hag not 
yet departed, though their orbs have set, continue to build 
you up in faith, charity, purity, and peace, and give you at 
last an inheritance among them that are sanctified. 


The noble, considerate, and generous sentiments 
by which the Brattle Street society were ever gov- 
erned in their relations with him; the indulgence 
with which they ever regarded his youth, and the 
consequent deficiencies of his experience ; the cor- 
diality with which they met his every wish ; the 
tenderness and sympathy with which they looked 
upon the embarrassments occasioned by his illness, 
were met by him with feelings of the deepest grati- 
tude. The time that he was their pastor was ren- 
dered the happiest portion of his life ; and had it 
pleased God to lengthen his days, the tenderest rela- 
tions, no doubt, would have been knit between them. 

His father was now consulted, whether he would 
take part in the ordination. The son's letters are 
lost, but his father wrote as follows : — 

' Dec. 14, 1804. 

'My dear Son, — I received your letter last evening, 
having been expecting one for several days. The contents 


were such as I anticipated, after having heard of the par- 
tiality with which your preaching was received. If that 
church and society have chosen you for their minister, 
and you choose to settle with them, I know of nothing to 
hinder it. Every society has a right to choose its minister, 
and the minister is bound to follow what he believes to be 
the leading of Providence. I suppose the votes you mention 
were given by the society, not by the church in distinction 
from the society ; if so, there is some informality in the 
process. The church should lead in calling a minister, and 
the parish concur ; for parishes are not known in the Gospel, 
nor in ecclesiastical councils. I know not whether this 
distinction is observed in Boston and its vicinity. 

4 You will doubtless, my son, accept the call, and they 
will wish you inducted as soon as possible. Even if I had 
no scruples upon my mind respecting the sentiments you 
entertain, I should be willing to be excused from any part 
in the tender and affecting scene, and I should be glad to 
spare you from that anxiety which sons feel respecting the 
performances of their fathers. And under present circum- 
stances this anxiety will be increased on your part, lest your 
orthodox, or rather, bigoted, father should mortify you with 
his theology, and perhaps offend the society over which you 
are to be settled. Therefore I should much prefer to be left 
out of the affair 

4 It is a great and arduous work, my son, upon which 
you are entering ; but he that desires the office of a Bishop 
desires a good work ; and if he enter upon it with proper 
furniture, with right views and motives, sensible where his 
strength lies, he will be supported under all his burdens, and 
receive out of the fulness that there is in Christ (in whom 
dwells the fulness of the Godhead bodily) according to his 
necessities. God forbid that I should cease to pray for you, 
and I hope, my son, that you will maintain constant and 
fervent prayer in your closet. Study upon your knees, my 
son, and search the Scriptures with humility and prayer. 


I hope God will guide you into all truth, and that the Spirit 
will bring to your remembrance the things wherein you 
have been instructed in vour youth. 

'As you will now be a minister in Boston, where tempta- 
tions and dangers are many, permit a father to exhort you 
to have regard to your health. Resolve fixedly not to go 
to large dinners or entertainments in any frequency ; and 
do not join parties of mere amusement. Your predecessors 
were perhaps injured by such indulgence, and their lives 
shortened ; take a good portion of regular exercise, not 
barely in visiting, but in riding, walking, or in sawing wood. 
I hope you will rise early, and not spend your nights in 
study. Sad experience will teach you that this practice is 
hurtful to the delicate structure of the nerves. I can say 
no more, but commend you to God. Although in many 
things I have doubtless failed in parental duty, my con- 
science testifies that I have always had at heart your best 
good, and it will ever be a subject that will rise up and lie 
down with me. 

1 P. S. As I have expressed in the letter, it will be more 
agreeable to me to take no part in the act of your settle- 
ment ; but if it should be your wish that I should preach, 
I suppose that could be done without my taking any part 
in the council of ordination.' 

' Dec. 31st, 1804. 

4 My dear Son, Since it seems to be your wish 

that I should attempt to preach at your ordination, I have 
been throwing together some thoughts upon a subject not 
very foreign from those you suggest to me, but they are at 
present in the state of the world at the very beginning of the 
creation. I shall endeavor to reduce them to some form, 
in order that, if your mother's health will permit, I may be 
able to be with you, and support you, on the day that must 
be anticipated by you with great seriousness and anxiety. 
I would by no means dictate to you respecting a preacher 
in case I should fail, but I am sorry that Dr. Morse should 


be unpopular with any of your society, or that you should 
feel as if any of the society did not esteem and respect 

1 If I were as much of a Hopkinsian on some points as 
you, my son, are upon others, I should be glad they had 
thought of Mr. Appleton* for Cambridge [for Hollis Pro- 
fessor of Divinity]. I think there is no man so likely to 
render calm and to keep quiet the two opposite parties, 
and to preserve Cambridge from becoming the arena of 
theological discord ; but the loss to me, to the Academy, 
and to our Association would be irreparable. 

1 You must be prepared with another preacher, lest your 
mother's health should forbid my being with you. She 
has frequent ill turns that chill the ardor of the hopes I 
sometimes form of her recovery. I desire to be humble 
under all God's rebukes, and receive submissively all his 
dealings. I hope the clouds he spreads over my prospects 
here will serve to brighten the scene beyond the grave. 
Happy he who can say, " Yea, doubtless I esteem all things 
but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ 
my Lord." That you and I, my dear son, may have this 
knowledge, and through it, comparatively, despise all earthly 
things, may God give us grace sincerely to pray ! 
4 Your affectionate father, 


The day for the ordination had been appointed 
for the 30th of January, just a year after the society 
had first asked him to preach upon probation, when 
he had been held back by his own youth and his 
father's anxiety. A most severe snow-storm occurred 
on the 28th, but, notwithstanding the depth of the 
snow, his father arrived the evening before the ap- 
pointed day. 

* Afterwards President of Brunswick College. 


Joseph makes this record of the ordination in his 
journal : — -The council met at ten o'clock. Papers 
were produced. Dr. Kirkland moved for a confession 
of faith. It was read. No objection was made to it. 
My father preached. The ordaining prayer was by 
Dr. Lathrop. Charge by Dr. Cushing. Concluding 
prayer by Dr. Morse. Fellowship of the churches 
by Mr. Emerson. Psalm and benediction by myself. 
Every thing proceeded, by the blessing of God, with 
perfect decorum, and the solemnities were more inter- 
esting than usual.' 

The sermon, of which the text, chosen by Dr. 
Buckminster, was, l Let no man despise thee,' was 
not certainly one of his happiest efforts. It was too 
desultory, and, as he said, ' the heart of a parent, that 
anxious, busy thing, could scarcely be diverted from 
the image of his son while addressing superiors in 
age and standing.' 

The address to his son at the conclusion is now 
deeply significant to those who know the peculiar 
tenderness of the relation between them, and how it 
had been strained and wounded by the conscientious 
scruples that led them to different conclusions in their 
doctrinal sentiments. 

1 My son, the day has arrived in which you are to be 
completely invested with that office, divine in its origin, 
important in its design, and beneficent in its influence, of 
which you have been emulous from your earliest years, 
and which you have always kept in view in your literary 
pursuits. While I have endeavored to restrain your ardor 
and check the rapidity of your course, motives of concern 
for the honor of God, and for your reputation and comfort, 
influenced my conduct. But a powei paramount to all 


human influence has cast the die, and I bow submissively. 
God's will be done ! 

' In the hours of parental instruction, when my speech 
and affection distilled upon you as the dew, you have often 
heard me refer to the cheering satisfaction with which I 
presented you at the baptismal fount, in the name of the 
sacred Trinity, and enrolled you among the members of 
Christ's visible family ; would to God I might now lead you 
with the same cheering hope to the altar of God, and lend 
you to the Lord as long as you shall live ! But the days 
are past in which you can depend upon the offering of a 
parent. To your own Master you stand or fall. God grant 
the response may be, " He shall be holden up, for God is 
able to make him stand ! " ' 

And thus he pleaded for his son with the so- 
ciety: — 

1 The heart of a father, alive to the interests of a son and 
not indifferent to the honor of the Gospel, recoiled from the 
idea of his beginning his ministerial efforts upon so public a 
theatre, and before so enlightened an audience ; and the 
hope that longer delay and greater experience would render 
him more equal to the duties of the ministiy, and more 
worthy of the esteem and respect of his fellow-men, induced 
me to yield with reluctance to your early request to hear 
him as a candidate. But since your candor and charity 
have silenced my scruples, and your affection and judgment 
have become surety for the youth, and he himself has said 
" he will go with you," I yield him to your request. Bear 
him up by the arms of faith and prayer. Remember him 
always in your devotional exercises. May God have you 
and your pastor within his holy keeping ! May he shed 
down upon you unitedly his celestial dews, that you may 
be like a watered garden, and like a spring whose waters 
fail not ! ' 



1805. The father, having left his Benjamin in 

Aged 21. Boston, returned, and the son appeared to 
begin his ministry under the happiest auspices, but 
he enters in his journal, immediately after the ordi- 
nation, — 'Alas! who knows what is before him?' 
The very next day he was seized with a severe fever, 
brought on, no doubt, by anxiety and fatigue, and he 
was not able to commence his ministry till the begin- 
ning of March. Although at first a severe disap- 
pointment to him, it was a season rich in valuable 
instruction. Besides the lessons of patience and re- 
signation, it taught him the value of sympathy, and 
of some of the virtues that dwell almost exclusively 
in the sick-room, — the endurance and unwearied 
tenderness of woman, and the value of those name- 
less services, that the poorest individual may render, 
but which the mines of Peru can never repay ; and it 
added new strength and delicacy to the bonds of 
friendship he was just beginning to form with many 
of his parish. The first time he preached, instead of 
the usual addresses upon the mutual duties of pastor 
and people, he took the text from the hundred and 
nineteenth Psalm: — 'It is good for me that I have 
been afflicted ' ; and, from some passages of the ser- 


mon, we learn how deeply he felt the uncertainty of 
his blessings, and that sinking of the heart which 
debility and lassitude impose. 

4 Sickness teaches us, not only the uncertain tenure, but 
the utter vanity and unsatisfactoriness, of the dearest objects 
of human pursuit. Introduce into the chamber of a sick 
and dying man the whole pantheon of idols which he has 
vainly worshipped, — fame, wealth, pleasure, beauty, power, 
— what miserable comforters are they all ! Bind a wreath 
of laurel round his brow, and see if it will assuage his 
aching temples. Spread before him the deeds and instru- 
ments which prove him the lord of innumerable possessions, 
and see if you can beguile him of a moment's anguish ; see 
if he will not give you up those barren parchments for one 
drop of cool water, one draught of pure air. Go tell him, 
when a fever rages through his veins, that his table smokes 
with luxuries, that the wine moveth itself aright and giveth 
its color in the cup, and see if this will calm his throbbing 
pulse. Tell him, as he lies prostrate, helpless and sinking 
with debility, that the song and dance are ready to begin, 
and that all without him is life, alacrity, and joy. Nay, 
more, place in his motionless hand the sceptre of a mighty 
empire, and see if he will be eager to grasp it. This, my 
friends, this is the school in which our desires must be dis- 
ciplined, and our judgments of ourselves and the objects of 
our pursuit corrected.' 

After enumerating some of the lessons taught by 
sickness, he says : — 

4 We beseech you, then, do not mistake us. When we 
discourse to you of the beneficial fruits of affliction, we talk 
of no secret and magical power which sickness possesses to 
make you necessarily and immediately good and wise ; but 
we speak of fruits which must form, and swell, and ripen, — 
fruits which time must mature and watchfulness preserve. 



We represent sickness as a discipline which you must live 
to improve, — a medicine whose operation cannot be ascer- 
tained if the patient dies in the experiment. O, defer not, 
then, I beseech you, defer not to the frantic hours of pain, 
to the feverish hours of disease, to the languishing hours of 
confinement, — defer not till then an attention to the things 
which concern your everlasting peace. You think they 
will be hours of leisure. Believe me, it will be the leisure 
of distraction or insensibility ; — it may be the leisure of 

As none of his family could be with him during 
his illness, he became acquainted with many of his 
parish in the most interesting relation, that of com- 
forters and cheerers of the slow hours of convales- 
cence, and he formed ties of gratitude that were never 

His father wrote to him every three or four days 
during his illness. One letter only is inserted. 

'Feb. 9th, 1805. 

1 My beloved Son, — We enter deeply into your suffer- 
ing situation, rendered so peculiarly trying to you by the 
time at which it has fallen on you, just as you had received 
the charge of a church, and expected to appear before them 
as their minister ; but God is the rock, his work is perfect. 
He knows how to time, influence, and overrule all his dis- 
pensations towards us. You and I, perhaps, both needed 
this check to our vanity, and this sensible conviction of our 
frailty and dependence, not upon ourselves, but upon him. 
It becomes us to receive evil as well as good from the hand 
of God, and we shall find it good for us to hope and quietly 
wait for his salvation. All things shall work together for 
our good if we love him, and are called according to his 

4 1 feel confidence that you are in the midst of friends, 


who will do every thing in their power to relieve and help 
you. Endeavor to be submissive, my dear son, and place 
your ultimate hope and dependence upon Him who is able 
to bring sweetness out of affliction. I trust you will find it 
good that you have been afflicted. It may, perhaps, furnish 
you with thoughts and reflections that will enable you the 
more tenderly to sympathize with your afflicted people, 
when you shall be called to see them and to administer to 
them the consolations wherewith you have yourself been 
comforted of God. We hope, also, it may be the means 
of making a change in your constitution that shall relieve 
you of the malady with which you have been exercised. 
Endeavor, my son, to preserve your mind as free as possi- 
ble from anxiety. Your pulpit shall be supplied. " Commit 
your way to the Lord and he shall establish it ; trust also in 
him, and he will bring it to pass." Although your pains 
are severe and weakening, we trust they are not dangerous. 
If your disorder should put on any fresh appearance, I shall 
endeavor to go up and see you, although my calls at home 
are a forbidding circumstance to such a journey. I hope 
Mr. Thacher will continue to write as often as he thinks 
proper, and that we shall soon hear pleasant tidings from 
you ; but we must refer all to the wisdom and goodness of 
God. Good night, my son. I hope you will sleep in ease 
and quietness.' 

That even long after his recovery he felt deeply 
the weight of responsibilty he had taken upon him- 
self, appears from a sermon written in the course of 
the year. 

4 My grace, says Jesus to the drooping apostle, my grace 
is sufficient for thee. Sufficient for what? For health, life, 
toil ? Yes, my friends, and for the duties of a profession, 
of which no one knew better than this feeble apostle the 
labors and the responsibility. In a frame weak as the reed 


which every blast bends to the dust, he bore a spirit which 
disdained the iron gripe of adversity ; a spirit which perse- 
cution only wrought up to exertions almost miraculous ; 
a spirit which death itself could only set free to expatiate in 
the rewards to which it had continually aspired. That 
eloquent apostle understood well the various duties which 
are implied in the cure of souls, — of souls, my friends, the 
most precious gems in the circle of God's gifts to his 
creation. And they are to be preserved, too, for God 
himself; they are to be prepared, not for earth only, but 
for heaven, — to be cleared from all the dross that now 
incrusts them, and purified for a region of spirits, where all 
is pure, intellectual, and godlike. He, then, who would fit 
men for heaven must consult, in the exercise of his pastoral 
duties, all the grades of human capacity, and, what is more, 
all the varieties of human disposition. He must accomplish 
in himself that rare union of prudence and zeal, of caution 
and earnestness, which it is the hardest problem in human 
character to combine. He has to secure the reception of 
the Gospel with which he is put in trust, principally by 
throwing light upon the darkened understandings, or by 
seizing upon the avenues to the hardened heart. A course 
of instruction that might gain the superficial would revolt 
the wise ; and the rich, the enlightened, or the consequential 
hearer may be charmed, while the poor and the ignorant 
may be perishing in silence, disappointment, or want. 
Paul, when he harangued the polite Athenians, or addressed 
the judges of the Areopagus, selected topics and employed 
a style which would not have gained a bigoted Jew within 
the precincts of the temple. The discourse which almost 
persuaded the noble Agrippa to be a Christian is the most 
classical and eloquent in the Acts. It is clothed in lan- 
guage which would not have betrayed the native of Tarsus 
in the most polished circle of Greece. The Epistle to the 
Hebrews, on the contrary, if it be really the work of the 
Apostle, is filled with arguments of which the force could 


be felt only by a superstitious adherent to the old Mosaic 
ceremonies, but which would have been to the Athenians 
ridiculous and unintelligible. So, also,«at the present day, 
a wise and faithful pastor cannot hope to reclaim an acute 
and polished skeptic by the usual appeals to authority, or by 
bringing up in array the commonplaces of theology. A 
delicate and sensitive spirit, open, candid, and seeking 
earnestly for the truth, is not to be treated like a bigoted 
understanding, obscured with prejudice acquired too early 
to be remembered, and incrusted too deep to be washed 
away with persuasion. There are some man, of strong, 
unpolished, native intellect, who are affected by reasonings, 
illustrations, and persuasions far different from those adapted 
to minds which have been enriched by the learning or pol- 
ished by the taste of the times. In the differences, too, of 
opinion which will be found among believers, the aged and 
opinionated must see that his opinions are respected, even 
when they are doubted ; and he must not always suppose 
them to be believed when they have not been controverted. 
The young and the presumptuous must be checked with 
caution, lest he should become indifferent or hostile ; but he 
must be seasonably converted, lest he should perish in the 
vanity of fashionable unbelief, or the pride of intellectual 
speculations. In short, Christianity is to be recommended 
to all the various measures of human capacity, now by 
reasonings, then by persuasion ; here by removing preju- 
dices, and there by strengthening them ; sometimes by 
appeals to the heart, sometimes to the intellect, sometimes 
to the hopes, and sometimes to the fears ; in one word, by 
means as various as the minds which the light of celestial 

truth is intended by its Author to illumine 

' Consider, too, that all these complicated duties of the 
Christian minister are enjoined by especial sanctions. He 
is immediately and peculiarly responsible to his God. In 
his eye, the day of his examination is perpetually present. 
Hardly dare I speak to you on this subject, my friends. 



Hardly dare I to think of the inexpressible anguish with 
which I should learn, in that solemn day of my account, 
that this man was made an unbeliever by some unwise 
statement of mine ; this youth was fixed in an error, which 
has colored his whole life, by my injudicious treatment of 
his doubts ; this gay spirit was lost by my omitting an 
opportunity of making a serious impression upon his heart, 
while it was intenerated by sorrow ; that fine understanding 
was shattered by an affliction, which I might have assisted 
him to bear, had I communicated earlier the consolations of 
the Gospel to his heart, and here is a dear friend, whose 
sin I neglected to reprove ; how awfully is his account 
lengthened because I stood beside him a silent witness of a 
single fault! But the subject is too painful, I will not 
pursue it. 

' O God, I prostrate myself in the dust before thee, and 
acknowledge my insufficiency ! What in me is dark, do 
thou illumine ; what is low, raise and support ; what is 
wavering, establish ; what is weak, strengthen ; what is 
wrong, forgive ! Let but thy blessing follow me, and then 
what is sown in weakness shall be raised in power, to thy 
glory and to everlasting life.' 

Mr. Buckminster wanted a few months of twenty- 
one years, when he began his ministry in one of the 
largest societies in Boston. By the conditions of the 
will by which the parsonage-honse was given to the 
Brattle Street parish, in perpetuity, the minister for 
the time being is obliged to make it the place of his 
constant residence. Convenient, and in many re- 
spects eligible, it is, by its public and exposed situa- 
tion, near the courts and lawyers' offices, and not far 
from the commercial part of the city, a noisy abode 
for one who wishes, in his hours of retirement, to be 
a diligent and absorbed student. Its accessibility to 

me. buckminster's suudy. 211 

the then busiest part of the town exposed him to 
perpetual interruptions in the day-time, and led to 
the habit of prolonging his hours of study far into the 
night. The house was also too large for one who had 
no family, and no prospect of forming family con- 
nections. He went into the house, therefore, as a 
boarder with the persons already there, reserving a 
large and pleasant room for his study. This was 
soon made extremely attractive by the number of 
books it was his delight to collect, and by the inter- 
esting pamphlets and literature of the day, scattered 
all over his round study-table. It was the centre of 
attraction for all his young friends, and for the elders 
among the clergy, and was soon called the ' minis- 
ters' exchange.' 

Soon after, for his own private recreation, he added 
a chamber organ to his room, where, in the pauses of 
his hours of study, he delighted to indulge his pas- 
sion for music. It was at first a solitary recreation, 
but soon he induced his choir to meet there to prac- 
tise ; and in subsequent years he had concerts in his 

If any among the living remember this study, they 
will recollect its cheerful aspect in the sunshine of 
winter, and the air of retirement that was given to it 
by the closed blinds in summer, and, above all, the 
cordial, the cheering, the glowing expression of affec- 
tionate kindness with which he welcomed his friends. 
Here were passed his happiest days, in pursuits most 
congenial, and perhaps too attractive, for his uncertain 
health and frail organization. Fortunately, the office 
of a clergyman in Boston does not allow of exclusive 
devotion to study. To borrow the words of another, 


' It is the general habit of the place for the individuals 
of each society to make their minister a part almost 
of their families, a sharer of their joys and sorrows, — 
one who has always access to them, and is always 
welcomed with distinguished confidence and affec- 
tion This intimate connection with his peo- 
ple, although, to a man of any sensibility, a source 
of the most exquisite gratifications of the human 
heart, makes a great addition to his toils. It makes 
a deep inroad upon the time he would give to study, 
and almost compels him to redeem it from the hours 
which ought to be given to exercise or repose. By 
the variety and painful interest, also, of the scenes 
and occupations to which it calls him, the mind is 
often agitated and worn down ; while the reflection, 
which it is impossible always to exclude, of the 
insufficient ability with which his duties are per- 
formed, and the inadequate returns he can make for 
the friendship and confidence he receives, must often 
come over and oppress his spirits.' * 

The above remarks apply more directly to the rela- 
tion which existed between ministers and people in 
the good city of Boston, at the close of the last cen- 
tury. Ministers were then expected to spend a very 
large portion of their time in visiting the different 
families of their parishes. The intimacy was so close 
that every joy and sorrow, every item of good for- 
lune, and every trial, however light, was imparted to 
the sympathizing friend. The infant, from the hour 
of its baptism, was one of the lambs of his flock. If 
a boy, his progress was watched through the succes- 
sive schools, and after he entered the college or the 

* Memoir by Mr. Thacher. 


counting-room. If a daughter, the minister fixed his 
paternal and indulgent eye upon her, till he was called 
to consecrate her union, probably with another of his 
flock; and at the marriage-supper, the honored place 
at the left hand of the bride was reserved for him. 

The minister and his flock passed through life, ren- 
dering to each other countless mutual services ; and, 
when the pastor stood at the grave of a parishioner, 
paying the last tribute of earth to earth, he felt as 
though he had lost a member of his household. The 
sermons of such a minister could be neither searching 
nor pungent. He looked so nearly into his parish, 
that their faults must have been lost to the mental 
eye, by the thousand excuses he was impelled to 
make for them. Then he could scarcely speak of 
faults and follies which he had observed, without 
making an application so distinct as to rend the veil 
of charity which should cover a multitude of sins. 

The young ministers who were settled at the be- 
ginning of this century found it necessary to modify 
in some degree the custom of the place, — to spend 
less time at the social fireside and more at the study- 
table. If they would render their sermons such as 
would satisfy themselves, and such as their societies 
demanded, they must give up the enjoyment of the 
almost daily hospitality of some kind parishioner ; 
and the fine leg of mutton or the famous turkey must 
be eaten without the blessing being asked over it by 
the favorite minister. The time which was gained 
by briefer and less frequent visits was devoted to the 
mental preparation, by which their sermons gained in 
richness of thought, in power and eloquence. Cer- 
tainly there is no place on the face of the globe, 


where discourses from the pulpit are of a higher 
standard of excellence than in Boston. 

That Mr. Buckminster began, immediately after his 
ordination, to acquaint himself intimately with his 
parish, appears from a manuscript book, alphabetically 
arranged, of every family, and of many persons, be- 
longing to the Brattle Street society. The number 
of persons forming the different families, the occupa- 
tion of the parents, the names of the children, are 
recorded ; then are added, in Latin or French, re- 
marks, notices, and characteristics, important only for 
him to know as their friend and spiritual adviser. 

The object that next claimed his warmest interest 
and attention was the singing of the choir of Brattle 
Street Church. I have mentioned his exquisite ear, 
and the passionate love of music that appeared in his 
earliest years. Before he went to Exeter Academy, 
he had learned to blow the flute, but was discouraged 
by his father, who feared the effect upon his health. 
He afterwards took some lessons on the violin and 
violoncello, but relinquished them, as creating a too 
passionate love, that encroached upon his other 
studies ; but, as soon as he could unite his favorite 
pursuit with the improvement of the church music, 
he began to learn to play upon the organ. His own 
voice was eminently musical, and his enthusiasm was 
scarcely permitted any bounds when he could induce 
a fine voice of either male or female performer to join 
the choir. One evening in the week was devoted to 
rehearsing with the church singers in his own study, 
and these were truly his hours of relaxation and 
delight. He was sometimes so fascinated and lost 


in the sounds he could himself draw from the organ, 
that his sister, leaving him after one of these evenings, 
and thinking he would immediately retire, awoke, far 
in the night, still hearing the organ from his study, 
and, upon going down, found him still sitting at the 
instrument, wholly unconscious of the flight of time. 

A few years after, he assisted in making a collec- 
tion of tunes for sacred music. He devoted much 
time and labor in comparing and arranging such as 
were suited, either from their intrinsic value or from 
their sacred or tender associations, to the worship of 
the church ; and I believe the Brattle Street Collec- 
tion, though small, is esteemed a valuable selection 
of tunes, even by musicians. 

One other evening in the week was devoted at this 
time to young men of his own age, and even younger, 
whom he could induce to meet him at his study and 
converse upon moral and religious subjects. There 
was no formality in this meeting. It was not called 
a prayer-meeting, nor a meeting for inquiry; no pub- 
licity was given to it, and those who attended it were 
not subjected to observation from others. Induced 
by his invitation, or by the attractiveness which his 
own youth gave to religion, many went to open to 
him their anxieties, to satisfy an inquiring spirit, to 
seek direction for a doubting mind, to find a balm for 
an awakened conscience, or to inquire the path to 
religious peace. Privacy was secured by removing 
the light from the entry, which usually indicated that 
he was from home, and the evening was closed with 
prayer. One of the objects of this meeting was to 
suggest and to lend books to those young persons 
who evinced a taste for reading and self-improvement. 


May we not suppose that many young men, who 
afterwards led eminently Christian lives, received 
some of their best religious impressions from these 
evening meetings ? 

About this time he corrected for the press Miss 
Hannah Adams's History of New England, and made 
such alterations for a second edition as were advisa- 
ble to render the book as plain and familiar as was 
consistent with elegance of style. By this and other 
acts of friendship, he secured the grateful attachment 
of that simple, unassuming nature, the childlike inno- 
cency of whose mind and manners formed a curious 
contrast with the abstruse character of her investiara- 
tions and pursuits. 

At a little later period of his life, while Miss Adams 
was compiling her history of the Jews, the most fre- 
quent visiters to his study perceived, as they entered, 
seated at the same table with him, diligently compil- 
ing her notes, and abstracted completely from present 
things, the unassuming and plainly attired form of 
this simple old lady. She was so familiar and so 
quiet, that, though they pursued their studies many 
days and weeks together, they never disturbed or 
interrupted each other. The author of the Memoir 
of Miss Adams* has given so interesting an account 
of their intercourse, that the writer avails herself of it 

4 It was on a visit to Boston that Miss Adams first saw 
Mr. Buckminster. He was then about sixteen years old. 
Those who knew him well will not think her description an 
exaggerated one. " He had then," she said, " the bloom of 

* Mrs. George G. Lee. 


health on his cheek, and the fire of genius in his eye ; I did 
not know from which world he came, whether from heaven 
or earth." Though so young, he entered fully into her 
character, and, before they parted, gave her a short but 
comprehensive sketch of the state of literature in France 
and Germany. After he became the pastor of Brattle 
Street Church, he, with Mr. Stephen Higginson and Mr. 
Shaw, the active founder of the Athenaeum, proposed to 
Miss Adams to remove to Boston ; at the same time pro- 
curing for her, through the liberal subscription of a few 
gentlemen and ladies, an annuity for life. She had then 
commenced her History of the Jews, and nothing could 
have been more favorable to its progress or her own ease of 
mind, than this benevolent arrangement. She could never 
speak of her benefactors without deep emotion. 

1 From Mr. Buckminster she received the most judicious 
and extensive assistance. She was in the habit of visiting 
him in his study, and had his invitation to come when she 
pleased, and sit and read as long as she pleased, or to take 
any books home and use them like her own. Perhaps 
people are never perfectly easy with each other till they 
feel at liberty to be silent in each other's society. It was 
stipulated between these students that neither party should 
be obliged to talk. But her own language will best describe 
her feelings. " Mr. Buckminster would sometimes read 
-for hours without speaking. But, occasionally, flashes of 
genius would break forth in some short observation or 
sudden remark, which electrified me. I never could have 
gone on with my history without the use of his library. I 
was indebted to him for a new interest in life. He intro- 
duced me to a valuable circle of friends ; and it was 
through him that I became acquainted with Mrs. Bowdoin, 
(afterwards Mrs. Dearborn,) whose kindness and attention 
to me have been unceasing. Mr. Buckminster's character 
was the perfection of humanity. His intellectual powers 
were highly cultivated and ennobled. Yet even the aston- 



ishing vigor and brightness of his intellect was outdone by 
the goodness of his heart." 

4 Mr. Buckminster assisted Miss Adams's researches, and 
procured her information for her History of the Jews. He 
took a warm interest in this oppressed people, and often 
prayed for them at the communion service in the same 
language in which Jesus prayed for them : " Father, forgive 
them, for they know not what they do ! " 

' It is impossible not to look back with admiration upon 
the benevolence that prompted these kind attentions ; and it 
is not a difficult effort of the imagination to enter the 
library, and view these laborious and widely dissimilar 
students together. The one distinguished by the natural 
ease, grace, and elegance of his manners ; the other, timid 
and helpless. The one, advancing with the elastic step of 
youth ; the other, declining into the vale of years ; yet 
both drawn together by those sympathies which spring from 
the fountain of perfect and everlasting good. Who would 
not be touched by the spectacle,' adds Mrs. Lee, ' of a 
young man of such distinguished talents, equally sought by 
the world of science and of fashion, extending a helping 
hand and devoting so large a portion of his time to a timid 
and unassuming woman, shrinking from the ills of life, but 
who derived her happiness from the same sources that he 
did, — literature and religion? When, from indisposition, 
she omitted for any length of time her visits to his study, a 
kind note, or a still kinder visit, alleviated the infirmities of 
of her health.' * 

Miss Adams herself remarks : — 'I could not have 
completed my History of the Jews, if I had not been 
animated and encouraged by his participating in the 
interest I felt in this extraordinary people. Though 
entering into the details of the sufferings of the per- 

* From Mrs. George G. Lee's Memoir of Miss Hannah Adams. 


secuted Jewish nation, yet the enthusiasm of Mr. 
Buckmirister inspired me, and the pleasure of con- 
versing with him upon a subject with which he 
was intimately acquainted rendered the time I was 
writing my History one of the happiest periods of 
my life. 

This was only one of many instances in which he 
encouraged, animated, and helped the timid and the 
unassuming, and aided retiring merit. Among his 
private papers are many memorandums of sums ob- 
tained from ladies of his parish for the indigent, or 
for those who, like Miss Adams, asked only the en- 
couragement and sympathy of friendship. His calls 
upon their bounty seem never to have been denied ; 
and among those whose names appear, Mrs. Bowdoin, 
Winthrop, Lyman, Otis, Mrs. S. Cobb, — all have gone 
to reap the reward of their beneficence. 

Perhaps there never was a period in the whole of 
his short life, when he was more attractive to his 
friends, or more valuable to society. His activity was 
unwearied, his cheerfulness had known no blight ; for 
the uncertainty that hung over his life was habitual 
to his thoughts, and was merely a check to the too 
impetuous pursuit of the riches of the mind. 

' So winning was his aspect and address, 
His smile so rich in bright felicities, 
Accordant to a voice which charmed no less, 
That who but saw him once, remembered long; 
And s;>me in whom such images are strong, 
Have hoarded the impression in their heart, 
Fancy's fond dreams and memory's joys among, 
Like some loved relic of romantic song, 
Or cherished master-piece of ancient art-' 


Since his settlement, his malady had very much 
increased. He had scarcely been settled ten months, 
when he wrote in his journal, October 31st, 1805, — 
'Another fit of epilepsy. I think I perceive my 
memory fails me ! O God, save me from that hour ! ' 

And yet, notwithstanding this perpetual admonition 
of his frailty, there never was a person in whom life 
was more joyous and gladsome. He had a great deal 
of the Greek in his disposition. He entered deeply 
into life. Every thing in nature, every external ob- 
ject of life and beauty, was a source of joy to him. 
His intimate friend and biographer observes, ' His 
head resembled the finest models of the antique,' — 
and though certainly the form of the head is not an 
infallible sign of the intellectual powers, yet the char- 
acter here conformed to the head. Life, sentient life, 
was exuberant in him, like a morning in spring. He 
saw harmony, and grace, and beauty every where, 
from the smallest flower that sips the dew to the 
brightest star that shines in the firmament. 

' The meanest floweret of the vale, 
The simplest note that swells the gale, 
The common sun, the air, the skies, 
To him were opening paradise.' 

Although he was eminently spiritual, and the un- 
seen world was not a world of shadows, but of 
realities, to him, there was nothing mystical in the 
tendencies of his mind. What would have been the 
result of the German studies which he was just be- 
ginning at his death, can only be conjectured. The 
mystical element might have been developed as he 
proceeded in his inquiries. The joyousness of the 


present might have been lost in unsuccessful research- 
es after the obscure and hidden ; and the rational 
interpretation of that which was vouchsafed to his 
serious studies, might have been involved in gropings 
after the impenetrable secrets of the future. 

To return for a few moments to Dr. Buckminster. 
He was at this time passing through one of the 
severest afflictions of his life, and, although only fifty- 
four years old, there appeared to be a general break- 
ing up of the fountains of health. The immediate 
cause was the death of his wife, to whom he had 
been attached with a passionate regard, exceeding 
that which he would have approved in another to 
any earthly object. She had formed, as he says in 
one of his letters, ' the happiness and the ornament of 
his home,' and now he was bereft of the sweetness of 
life. His son, recording her death in his journal, 
writes with fervor, ' O God, support my dear father ! ' 
To afford his own aid in comforting him, he went 
immediately to Portsmouth, and spent more than a 
week, preaching for his father two Sabbaths. 

Although her illness had been long, her death at 
the last was sudden and unexpected. It threw 
my father into an agony of grief, in which his 
friends feared for his life or his reason. The whole 
of the night and day following her decease, he re- 
mained overwhelmed with sorrow, his agitated foot- 
steps pacing to and fro in his study, so that even his 
children feared to approach him. He was left with a 
family of seven children, four of them being very 
young. His eldest daughters were now old enough 
to take charge of the family, and he, soon recovering 



his calmness and faith, presided over them with a 
firmness and decision scarcely looked for in a man so 
tender in his affections. But it is the hardest and 
finest of materials, that, when drawn out into delicate 
chords, vibrates at every breath, and thrills at the 
touch of joy or sorrow. ' 

My father was very anxious to keep his fam- 
ily together, and that they should depend upon 
the sentiment of affection and union for their hap- 
piness. I have endeavored to express the intensity of 
the religious sentiment in his life ; he was no less 
anxious to enforce the absence of all worldliness, and 
the dependence of the heart upon spiritual good and 
mutual affection, as the aliment of life to his family. 
It may, perhaps, provoke a smile, in these days, when 
material interests are so supreme, and life seems mean 
and homely without the addition of luxury, to say, 
that his family enjoyed many of the best luxuries of 
the mind, and felt themselves rich, when his income 
could never have reached the amount of a thousand 
dollars a year. With this sum, at a time when the 
expenses of an education were much less than at 
present, he was able to educate both his sons at Har- 
vard University. 

The letters of my brother that follow close the 

' August, 1805. 

' My dear Sister, — I have purchased a very beautiful 
little book,* which I wish you to accept, though you have 
not, as the lady to whom these letters were addressed, been 
presented with a set of the British poets, (which I hope, 
however, one day to be able to send you,) for some of 

# Aiken's Letters upon the British Poets. 


them I know often amuse the leisure of young ladies, and I 
trust will not long be unknown to you. If I should meet 
with any thing equally elegant and pleasing, E. shall not be 
forgotten. These letters are written by one of the most 
correct and impartial critics now living. 

' I know not but I ousfht to have written to both of you 
while you were left alone at the head of the family ; if I 
have been negligent, let this acknowledgment plead my 
excuse. I hope, by the time this letter reaches you, you 
have been relieved from anxiety by my father's return. 
Write to me particularly about the state of his health ; 
whether it is amended by the journey ; whether the inci- 
dents of it were agreeable ; his companion pleasant ; whether 
his expectations were answered ; and, above all, whether his 
spirits and comfort are in any degree recovered. Would to 
God that the duties of my parish had allowed me to be his 

' I have been very much employed of late in parochial 
duty, owing to the great sickness among children. Within 
the last month, I have attended eleven funerals. 

' Your affectionate brother. 

6 P. S. I hear nothing of the baby and nurse in any of 
papa's letters. I believe he thinks me a kind of creature 
who does not care much whether you are dead or alive. 
However, it is true that I am pretty much absorbed in 
myself, my sermons, my parish, my singing, and other 

' December, 1805. 

' My dear Brother, — Nothing has given me more 
pleasure than to hear of the happy turn which your in- 
clinations have taken towards study. The taste for it 
being once acquired, it will not easily be lost ; but, by 
God's blessing, will preserve you from many temptations 
to which you would otherwise be exposed, and provide 
you with a source of the purest pleasure in your leisure 


moments, even if you should not be a professional man. And 
it is not necessary, as some imagine, my dear brother, to 
study one of the professions because you .have been through 
the preparatory courses of college studies. They will adorn 
the life of a merchant or an agriculturist, and be to you 
only an additional incentive to any honorable pursuit. 

4 1 wish you to be thoroughly grounded in your Latin and 
Greek grammars. With a perfect knowledge of your rules, 
every thing afterwards in parsing and construing will be 
easy. But a deficiency in this knowledge is very seldom 
supplied in advancing years. The preterites in Latin, and 
the anomalous verbs in Greek, are of great importance to a 
correct scholar. No man can presume to pass in England 
for a liberally educated man, who is deficient in quantity, or 
who is not master of prosody, and therefore makes mistakes 
in pronunciation. The knowledge of geography, history, 
logic, and rhetoric may be very much supplied in mature 
years ; but of the languages it cannot, because the memory 
then does not easily retain rules. 

' Be a good, regular, studious boy, and God will bless you. 
If you are not a learned man, you may be what is much 
better, a pious and useful one. But I sincerely hope, that, 
as your mind enlarges, you will be more and more attached 
to your books. It will give me the truest pleasure to hear 
that you are growing in every thing good and honorable, 
and that one of these days vou will feel an inclination to 
come and study with your brother, Joseph.' 

'My dear Sisters, — I thank you for the articles for 
my wardrobe. I could not but think, as I looked at the 
immense number of stitches that you have set for your 
brother, of the precious moments that might have been 
better employed. I send you a book,* that will, I am sure, 
agreeably amuse those moments that you can spare for 

* Knox's Elegant Extracts from the British Poets. 


4 The reason of my not writing before has not been 
illness ; neither ought I to say it has been too many avoca- 
tions, for a man can always find time to pen a few lines, 
though the press of business may make him forget that he 
ought to write, and this has been my case. I am glad you 
have returned to the pleasures of home, and I doubt not 
you have found them only enhanced by the variety you 

have seen abroad. As to 's French, I doubt whether 

she will have resolution enough to master the first difficulties 
without assistance. If she has a little easy introductory 
book, of which, by the help of a dictionary, she can learn 
the sense, it will be more attractive to her than to begin 
with the grammar. If not, I will send her one. 

4 Thank papa for the book he sent me, and not the less 
because I already possess it, and have read it. " The Force 
of Truth," or, at least, the force of conscience, ought to 
strike a person very powerfully, who, with a Socinian 
creed, has dared to subscribe, or to hold a living, in a 
church whose articles are unquestionably Trinitarian, as 
was the case with Mr. Scott. 

4 This letter is as rambling as a young lady's at a 
boarding-school. I will bid you good night, my dear 
sisters. Peaceful slumbers, undisturbed by any gay recol- 
lections, be your night's blessing. You have left a good 
name here ; remember, it can be preserved only by real 
virtues, — benevolence of disposition, a cultivated mind, 
and, as the security of all excellence, an inwrought senti- 
ment of piety and moral obligation. This is permanent ; 
good feeling is momentary. Read Miss Hamilton on 
Religious Principle. E., and F. also, pray read it. I do 
not mean to preach, however. 

4 Your brother, J. S. B.' 




In January, 1S06, Rev. Charles Lowell was settled 
at the West Church in Boston. He and Buckminster 
had been college classmates and intimate friends, and 
the latter was chosen to deliver the right hand of fel- 
lowship. An unusual truth and tenderness was 
infused into the fraternal address made to the candi- 
date by his friend, in a service which always owes a 
portion of its effect to natural feeling. 

' If,' he says, ' in offering you the fellowship of the 
churches, I should suffer myself to dwell with too much 
fondness on expressions of personal good-will, you, I know, 
would forgive me, but I should hardly have performed the 
duty assigned me by this honorable council. 

' We, and all our churches, are by this act united, not in 
the bonds of an ecclesiastical leao-ue, not under the dominion 
of infallible superiors, not for the purpose of strengthening 
the secular influence of our religious societies, nor in the 
spirit of any selfish and mercenary connection, but in those 
equal and spiritual ties which God has hitherto blessed and 
hallowed to the peace of the New England churches. For 
we are all united in the same faith and profession, in the 
same duties and hopes, in the same ordinances and liberties, 
and, as we trust, in the same spirit also, under one Lord, 
even Jesus, and " one God and Father of all, who is above 
all, and through all, and in all." 

>? •> 


This address was pronounced just as divisions 
were beginning in the churches of the Boston Asso- 
ciation, and one of the publications of the day, speak- 
ing of it, said : ' Notwithstanding the sanctity of 
the occasion, the following simile was received by the 
audience with a murmur of approbation.' 

1 Is there not, amid all the varieties of opinion and faith, 
enough left us in common to preserve a unity of spirit ? 
What though the globes that compose our planetary system 
are at some times nearer than at others, both to one another 
and the sun ; now crossing each other's path, now eclipsing 
each other's light, and even sometimes appearing to our 
short-sighted vision to have wandered irrecoverably, and to 
have gone off into boundless space ; yet do we not know 
that they are still reached by the genial beams of the central 
light, and continue in their widest aberrations to gravitate 
to the same point in the system ? And may we not believe 
that the Great Head of the Church has always dispensed 
through the numerous societies of Christendom a portion of 
the healing influences of his religion? has held his churches 
invisibly together when they have appeared to be rushing 
farthest asunder ? and through all the order and confusion, 
conjunction and apposition, progress and decline of churches, 
has kept alive in every communion a supreme regard to his 
authority, a portion of the spirit of their Master, as a com- 
mon principle of relation to him and to one another ? ' 

He closes with these words : — 

4 If I might be permitted now to express a wish for you 
and for myself, it would be this : that, as our gracious 
Master, when he was on earth, sent forth his seventy evan- 
gelists by two and two, to preach the Gospel in Judea, he 
would also send us forth together by his authority, would 
permit us to travel in company through the journey of a 
useful ministry, and would enable us to return to his pre- 


sence together at last, rejoicing to find that our names have 
been written, with the names of our people, in the book 
of life.' 

It was in this year that my brother began to contrib- 
ute to the pages of the Anthology, a monthly review, 
which had succeeded the Literary Miscellany, a short- 
lived periodical, commenced the previous year in 
Cambridge. The Anthology was supported by a 
society of gentlemen in Boston and Cambridge, con- 
sisting of the youngest of the clergy and many 
distinguished laymen. It was planned in a wholly 
private manner, and the business was afterwards con- 
ducted at weekly evening meetings, held in the 
beginning in succession, at the houses of the mem- 
bers. This meeting took the name of the Anthology 
Club. A light supper was allowed, but it was never 
a convivial club. Perhaps it was one of the most 
agreeable literary societies that ever existed in Boston, 
and among its members were some of the most hon- 
ored names in every profession. It will show the 
almost village character of Boston society forty years 
ago, and the early hours of fashionable parties, to 
mention that ladies would not invite company on 
Anthology evening, because the meeting of the club 
robbed them of the presence of the most agreeable 

The introductory address of the sixth volume of 
the Anthology, written by Mr. Buckminster, thus 
explains the purpose of the publication, and apolo- 
gizes for its deficiencies : — 

' The faults of our work, of which no one can be more 
sensible than its editors, result from causes which we can 


only hope to counteract, but not entirely to remove. The 
Anthology has hitherto been supported by the unpaid and 
unregulated contributions of a few literary men, who are 
well pleased when the public profits by their reading, or 
shares in their amusement. They have yet had no extraor- 
dinary stimulus to write but the friendly curiosity and occa- 
sional encomiums of men like themselves. They are not 
enlisted in the support of any denomination, nor are they 
inspired with the fanaticism of literary crusaders, associated 
to plant their standard on territory recovered from heathens 
or heretics. They are satisfied if they can in any way con- 
tribute to the mild influence of our common Christianity, 
and to the elegant tranquillity of a literary life. They are 
gentle knights, who wish to guard the seats of taste and 
morals at home from the incursions of the " Paynim hosts, 1 ' 
happy if they should now and then rescue a fair captive 
from the giants of romance, or dissolve the spell by which 
many a youthful genius is held by the enchantment of a 
corrupt literature. If, with these objects, they can retain the 
pleasures of lettered society, — 

" Mundaeque parvo sub lare pauperum 
Coenae, sine aulaeis et ostro, 
Sollicitam explicare frontem," — 

they will try to be as insensible to the neglect and contumely 
of the great vulgar and the small, as they are to the pelting 
of the pitiless storm without, when taste and good humor sit 
around the fire within.' 

When it is recollected that all of the contributors 
to the Anthology were men engaged in laborious and 
exacting professions ; that their contributions were 
the fruits of chance half-hours, or of moments lighted 
by the midnight lamp, after days of fatiguing labor in 
their offices ; ' that they did not pass under the rig- 
orous review of any single editor'; that each was 



his own censor, proof-reader, and critic ; — there is 
certainly a wonderful degree of unity of purpose and 
harmony of sentiment, and a general respectability, 
in its pages, highly creditable to the dawning litera- 
ture of the day. Any one reading it now will be 
startled at the independent tone of its criticism. 

Among its regular contributors were the Rev. Mr. 
Emerson, and Rev. Dr. J. S. J. Gardiner, who wrote 
upon classical themes and supplied many literary an- 
ecdotes. Professor Willard of Cambridge, whose ar- 
ticles were learned criticisms or reviews, Mr. William 
Wells, Mr. Frank Channing, Mr. William Tudor, 
were all occasional contributors. A. M. Walter, Esq., 
who seems to have been the darling of a numerous 
circle of friends, was one of its most responsible sup- 
porters. Then there were many very pleasant per- 
sons who belonged to the club, who did not contribute 
to the pages of its periodical, — drones in the hive, 
that were too agreeable to be turned out. Mr. John 
Lowell enriched its pages with his graphic ' Letters 
from Europe,' in a series through two or three years. 
The papers under the signature of R. were valuable 
and rich, — supposed to have been written by Mr. 
Rockwell of Boston. There were many fugitive 
papers sent from regions far from Boston. Daniel 
Webster, from the rocky wilds of New Hampshire, 
enriched its pages with his winged thoughts ; and 
some eloquent papers upon Greek literature came 
from Maine, which proved, as was remarked at the 
time, that their author dwelt nearer to Athens than 
the editors themselves.* Samuel Dexter wrote occa- 

* Charles Davies, Esq., of Portland. 


sionally for its pages, and a tardy Remarker, full of 
calm and transparent thought, proved that Dr. Kirk- 
land could sometimes, amid serious cares, finish a 
lighter production. 

Perhaps, of some of these gentlemen, it may be 
said that they have left no productions of the pen by 
which they are remembered ; their contributions to 
the Anthology lie forgotten in its pages. But is it 
rational or fair to complain that wine has not been 
stored in the cask, and preserved for future years, from 
the vines whose clusters have been gathered from day 
to day, as soon as they were ripe, to refresh the 
thirsty lip, to soothe the sick, and to serve for the 
dessert at the table of every passing day ? There 
was at that time no class of literary men, and had 
there been, there was little encouragement given to 
literature. Low as was the price of the Anthology, 
it had far more readers than subscribers ; and though 
the contributions were all gratuitous, it scarcely paid 
the expense of printing. 

Mr. Buckminster's anonymous contributions to the 
Anthology were very numerous. It is impossible at 
this time to know how numerous. Rough sketches 
are found among his papers of many articles which 
were anonymous at the time, and the author unsus- 
pected. The first thing that was known to be his, 
was a letter, written while he was in England, con- 
taining an account of his visit to Johnson's birth- 
place at Lichfield. As Johnson is as interesting at 
this day as at the time when it was written, and as it 
is a fair specimen of his epistolary style, the letter is 
inserted here. 


' Birmingham, June 19, 1806. 

1 My dear Friend, — Yesterday I travelled the whole 
distance from Buxton to Birmingham (sixty-one miles) in 
a post-chaise, with a young American, born near Ports- 
mouth ; and we shall probably keep company till we reach 
the metropolis, the urbs sacra, the city of the gods. This 
charming country is worth a voyage across the Atlantic 
to behold. Ceres and Flora must have laid their heads 
together, I think, to lay it out, and I have found that 
Thomson's Summer is a perpetual commentary upon the 
road I have been travelling. 

' Yesterday, about 5 o'clock, P. M., I passed through 
Lichfield. I purposely delayed dining till this late hour, 
that I might spend a longer time on this classic ground. 
As soon as I alighted at the hotel, I inquired for the house 
where Dr. Johnson was born. I was immediately shown to 
one about two hundred rods off, and I am sure I should not 
have walked with a quicker step, or with more expectation, 
to see the amphitheatre of Vespasian. 

1 The house where Johnson was born stands in the centre 
of the town of Lichfield, at. the corner of a square, within 
a few paces of the market and the Church of St. Mary's, 
I think. It is now an old three-story building, rather showy 
without, and rather shabby within. The first apartment on 
the lower floor, which was the bookstore of Johnson's father, 
is now a tinker's shop, filled with copper tea-kettles, tin 
pans, candlesticks, &c. ; while a small room adjoining is 
occupied by a maker of electrical machines. In the chamber 
over this shop, once divided into two, that mighty spirit, 
destined to illuminate the generation which received him, 
and to exalt our estimate of human capacity, was ushered 
into this world. This chamber is now, as I imagine, the 
tinker's drawing-room ! There remains a small fire-place 
in one corner, and the walls are hung round with paltry 
pictures, — 

" The seasons framed with listing find a place, 
And brave Prince William shows his lampblack face." 


The floors are much worn, dirty, and uneven, and every- 
thing within the house bears the appearance of poverty and 
decay. The tinman, named Evans, was not at home ; but 
his wife, a chatty old woman, told us, in answer to our 
queries, that the present rent which they paid was eighteen 
guineas, and that the taxes were as much more. This, to 
be sure, is quite as much as such a house would be worth in 
Boston, and nothing but its central situation can render it so 
high. The old lady then called her little grand-daughter, to 
conduct us to what is called the Parchment house, to which 
Johnson's father afterwards removed, and to show us the 
willow-tree, of which there is a tradition that it was planted 
by Johnson or his father, but nobody knows which. How- 
ever this may be, it is one of the most remarkable trees in 
all England. It is certainly twice as large as any willow I 
ever saw in America, and it is allowed to surpass every 
other in this country. The tinker's wife told us that her 
house was frequently visited by travellers, and I dare to say 
that the gratuities which she receives for her civilities in 
showing it amount at least to the rent of the house. Here 
is a subject for meditation. A tinman is now able to secure 
a comfortable habitation by showing the chamber where 

Johnson was born that Johnson, who has wandered 

many a night through the streets of London, because he 
was unable to pay for a lodging ! 

4 As we were returning to our inn, we espied a curious 
figure of an old man, with laced round hat, scarlet coat, 
with tarnished trimmings of the last age, and a bell under 
his arm. Upon accosting him, we found that he had been 
town-crier for many years, and a kind of Caleb Quotem ; 
that he always shaved Dr. Johnson when he came to visit 
Lichfield ; that his name was Jenney, seventy-four years 
old, with strength and spirits unimpaired. 

' The cathedral at Lichfield is worthy the attention of 
every traveller. Who shall say that the daily view of this 
ancient, dark, and reverend pile, once the residence of 



monks, may not have contributed to impress on the mind 
of young Johnson a superstitious veneration for the splendor 
of a church establishment, and have even given him that 
melancholy bias, which he discovered toward many of the 
ceremonies and doctrines of the Church of Rome. Indeed, 
I know of nothing so calculated to inspire a secret suspicion 
of the presence of the departed, as to walk through the 
long, still, and echoing aisles of a Gothic cathedral, lined 
on each side with the tombs, and ornamented with the 
figures, of men who died centuries ago ; for while you are 
trembling at the sound of your own steps in these lofty 
and silent cloisters, and seem to shrink into littleness under 
the venerable grandeur of the roofs, you can hardly bring 
yourself to believe that such a vast and solemn structure 
is uninhabited ; and after having heard the great gate close 
upon your coming out, you cannot avoid the impression, 
that you are leaving these awful retreats to some invisible 
and crhostlv tenants. 

' Dr. Johnson, and David Garrick, and Gilbert Walmsley, 
have monuments in this cathedral very near to one another. 
You remember the Latin epitaph which Johnson wrote for 
his father's tombstone, who was buried here ; I know you 
will hardly forgive the dean and chapter, when I tell you, 
that, in paving the church, they have lately removed it, 
as well as another, which Dr. J. caused to be placed over 
the grave of a young woman, who was violently in love 
with his father. The inscription which Dr. J. wrote was 

nothing more than this, — "Here lies a stranger, 

ob. &c." This anecdote I had from the verger, a tattling 
old man, who showed us the cathedral. He professed to 
have been " very intimate " (these were his words) with 
Dr. J. His name is Furneaux.'' 

Besides the description of the destruction of Gol- 
dau, sent from Europe, there is a letter from Paris, 
containing ' A sketch of the present state of litera- 
ture and theology in Paris.' 


There is m the pages of the Anthology a curious 
controversy between the Rev. Dr. J. S. J. Gardiner 
and Buckminster, upon the merits of Gray as a poet. 
This controversy bears some resemblance to the dis- 
cussions between the romantic and classical schools in 
literature. Dr. Gardiner maintains with dry reasoning 
that Pope's is the only true model for real poetry. 
And Buckminster supports, in the following passage, 
the opinion that the most thrilling touches of sub- 
limity and beauty are consistent with great indistinct- 
ness of images and conceptions. 

4 It is hardly to be believed, before making the experi- 
ment, that we should be so much affected as we are by 
passages which convey no definite picture to the mind. 

We must acknowledge that there is a higher 

species of poetry than the mere language of reason. 
Spenser, Milton, and even Dryden, knew this, and they 
studied successfully the Italian poets ; but after the time 
of Dryden, our English poetry began to be formed too 
exclusively upon that of the French. The authority of 
Pope has been eminently useful, but the world is not yet 
persuaded that to be a poet it is indispensable to write like 
Pope. ..... 

4 For my own part, I take as much delight in contemplating 
the rich hues that succeed one another without order in a 
deep cloud in the west, which has no prescribed shape, as 
in viewing the seven colors of the rainbow, disposed in a 
form exactly semicircular. After having read any poem 
once, we recur to it afterwards, not as a whole, but for the 
beauty of particular passages 

' The distinguishing excellence of Gray's poetry is, I 
think, to be found in the astonishing force and beauty of his 
epithets. In other poets, if you are endeavoring to recol- 
lect a passage, and find that a single word still eludes you, 


it is not impossible to supply it occasionally with something 
equivalent or superior. But let any one attempt this with 
Gray's poetry, and he will find that he does not even 
approach the beauty of the original. Like the single 
window in Aladdin's palace, which the Grand Vizier 
undertook to finish with diamonds equal to the rest, but 
found, after a long trial, that he was not rich enough to 
furnish the jewels, nor ingenious enough to dispose them ; 
so there are lines in Gray, which critics and poets might 
labor for ever to supply, and without success. This 
wonderful richness of expression has perhaps injured his 
fame. For sometimes a single word, by giving rise in the 
mind of the reader to a succession of images, so pre- 
occupies it as to obscure the lustre of the succeeding 
epithets. The mind is fatigued and retarded by the crowd 
of beauties, soliciting the attention at the same moment to 
different graces of thought and expression.' 

Dr. Gardiner, in his reply, again maintains, — 

' That he knows of no sublime passage in Homer, Virgil, 
or Milton, but what is perfectly intelligible ; and scarcely 
a description which would not make a good picture. Indeed, 
I lay it down as a general maxim, that whatever imagery a 
good painter cannot execute on the canvas must necessarily 
be incorrect. If there be any exception to this rule, it can 
only be where images are presented to the mind which are 
not subjects of the eye, as the rattling of the quiver on 
the shoulders of Apollo on his march to avenge his insulted 

' In his " Ode for Music," (an odd title, by the way,) Gray 
has these lines : — 

" And thus they speak in soft accord 
The liquid language of the skies." 

4 Now I should be happy if you would inform me in 
what consists " the astonishing force and beauty of this 


epithet." If Gray had written " the language of the liquid 
skies," we might have supposed he meant thunder in rainy 
weather. But I presume the beauty of this epithet arises 
from that inimitable obscurity which is the great source of 

Gray's sublimity 

4 The ode on Summer, published in the last Sylua, is 
superior to Gray's on the Spring, and, without borrowing a 
single thought or expression from him, exhibits all his pecu- 
liarities : his quaintness of epithets, his affected alliterations, 
and the general glitter and tinsel of his style.' 

Dr. Gardiner closes thus: — 'Sincerely wishing 
that you will in future employ your acknowledged 
talents as a writer more usefully than in the defence 
of absurdity.' 

Buckminster answers with a further vindication of 
Gray, and closes thus : — -I beg leave to reciprocate 
your benevolent wish, with a little variation ; that, 
instead of employing your " acknowledged talents " 
as a poet in burlesque imitations of Gray, you would 
have the goodness to give us an ode equal to the 
" Bard." ' 

It would perhaps be hardly worth while to call the 
history of this gentle controversy from the oblivion 
of the pages of the Anthology, were it not to intro- 
duce an anecdote recollected and imparted by the 
Hon. James Savage, a member of the club. c Con- 
troversy,' he says, ' sprang up in the club on the 
literary nature of Gray's odes, and the war began 
with a burlesque ode to Winter, by our president, 
Rev. J. S. J. Gardiner, who followed it up with one 
on Summer, also in the Anthology. In the same No., 
Buckminster gave a forcible defence of the imagery 
and epithets of the poet, which, the next month, was 


replied to by the assailant, and, in the following No., 
was strengthened by the other side ; and this also 
was counterworked by another parody of the lyric in- 
spiration, in which Gray's great odes were caricatured. 
A fourth attempt at the ludicrous, by our president, 
contained something unguardedly personal from the 
satirist to his antagonist, which produced strong 
though silent emotions of sympathy in many of the 
party. In an instant, the writer threw the incon- 
siderate effusion into the fire. This,' says Mr. Sav- 
age, l as a striking instance of the powerful influence 
of the gentleness of Mr. Buckminster, and of the 
profound regard felt for him by a critic of opposite 
sentiments in a protracted controversy, has dwelt 
forty years in my memory ; yet the kindly natured 
polemics had, I dare say, in half as many weeks, 
utterly forgotten it. From that moment, no allusion 
was made in the club to Gray's merits.' 

Another object, the design of which originated in 
the club, and was most earnestly urged by my brother, 
was to rescue from oblivion, and review in the An- 
thology-, the American books which had been printed 
since the settlement of the country. In the intro- 
duction to this department of the Anthology, called 
' Retrospective Notices of American Literature,' writ- 
ten by himself, he says : — 

' We propose to commence a review of books in Ameri- 
can literature, which have either been forgotten, or have 
not hitherto received the attention which they deserve. 
Interested as we are in every thing that relates to the honor 
of our country, we are not ashamed to express our convic- 
tion that one reason of the low estimate in which our 


literature is held among ourselves, as well as in Europe, is, 
that there has been no regular survey of this field of letters. 
It is supposed to be utterly barren, because it is so wide and 
desolate, and because there has never been a map of the 
region. But as in the highest parts of a mountainous coun- 
try, which appear at a distance to be covered with eternal 
snows, you will discover in crevices and little spots some 
humble and modest plants, which sufficiently reward the 
toilsome ascent of an enthusiastic botanist ; so, in the 
extensive if not copious records of American learning, 
we hope to detect a few rare and undescribed specimens, 
which may, by this means, awaken at least the regard of 
some future historian of literature. It is unfortunately true, 
that, while every country in modern Europe has produced 
copious annals of its literature, or maintained regular 
journals of its new works, this country has, till within a 
few years, had nothing of the kind.' 

After saying that the design would not embrace 
works in theology, he remarks : — 

4 It would be an endless task to review even the works 
of tolerable merit in this class, which have issued from the 
presses of New England alone. Here we are proud to 
mention the works of Jonathan Edwards, a man whose 
powers of mind need not have bowed before the genius 
of Locke or of Hartley, and whose theological research, 
in a remote part of an unlettered country, would have been 
considered honorable to any divine, surrounded with learned 
libraries, and aided by the constant intercourse of men of 
erudition. But we decline to enter this field of literary 
history, because it is perhaps not only the best known, but 
would also be less generally interesting. Neither shall we 
trespass upon the ground of that respectable and industrious 
society, which has already published several volumes of 
historical recollections 


' Nothing seems at present to be in the way of our 
gradually taking rank in the scale of literary nations but 
our avarice ; and the extraordinary opportunities we have 
had of making money, as it is called, are at least some 
apology for our immoderate love of gain 

s We can never in this country possess many of the 
luxuries of the fine arts which older countries enjoy ; but 
we may learn to love the more refined and loftier elegances 
of literature and taste. These can never be entirely debased 
by sensuality ; they never can be completely pressed into the 
cause of corruption. God grant that our expectations may 
not be disappointed, for we think we can discern the dawn 
of better days. " Novus sceculorum nascitur orcLo." ' 

He proceeded to redeem the engagement by the 
review of ' Logan's Translation of Cato Major, a 
quarto volume printed by Dr. Franklin in Phila- 
delphia, in 1744.' It was the first and the best trans- 
lation of an ancient classic which had appeared in 
this country. The translator was Mr. Logan of 
Philadelphia, and the work of translating was begun 
in his sixtieth year. 

The review of Cato Major was carried through 
three numbers of the Anthology. The articles that 
were furnished by Mr. Buckminster, after this, were 
generally of a theological character, ending with a 
review of Griesbach's New Testament in the tenth 
and last volume of the Anthology. 

An historical and more permanent interest attaches 
to the Anthology Club from the fact that the first 
idea was started, and the first design planned, of the 
Boston Athenaeum, in one of these evening meetings. 
To William S. Shaw, who, although not a frequent 
writer, was an active member of the club, belongs 


the honor of first proposing the Athenaeum. Upon 
another page will be found some curious details of 
the responsibility assumed by him, and the infor- 
mality with which the business was at first con- 

In connection with the Anthology, and to show 
Mr. Bnckminster's warm interest in this publication, 
part of a letter to Mr. Shaw, written from England, 
is introduced in this place. 

' I cannot say that I am entirely pleased with some of the 
last numbers of the Anthology. 1 fear that, in composing 
the Sylva, too much attention is paid to showing specimens 
of fine writing and sentimental beauties, rather than to 
making it curious for literary memoranda. I feel, too, on 
this side of the water, those defects which are almost 
inherent in the work, and which will keep it, I fear, from 
being interesting in Europe. These are, first, that we are 
amazingly destitute of any thing like scientific information 
and curious research. Secondly, the books we are called 
to review are very trifling, and have nothing to attract 
readers in Europe. Besides, 1 think we waste too much 
of our time upon fugitive pamphlets, and give them a 
page, when many of them should be despatched in a line. 
Lastly, we have too many heavy dissertations, theme-like 
communications, which no one reads, even among us, but 
the writer; and even if our criticisms and disquisitions were 
to possess as much taste as we sometimes fancy they do, 
yet they can hardly boast of originality, — the only thing 
which will attract readers here. They will not look, here, 
into an American publication, which gives them nothing but 
the drippings of their own. These circumstances do not in 
the least diminish my zeal for supporting our Anthology 

* See the correspondence of Shaw and Buckminster, Chapter 



with all our might, but they induce me to despair of seeing 
it awaken the attention and circulate among the readers of 
Europe. However, nil desperandum ; — I was going to add 
the rest of the quotation, but alas ! our dear Walter is dead, 

— the life and animating soul of the club ! 

' Give my love to all the Anthologists, even the new ones. 
I am delighted with Kirkland's address of the editors, in the 
new volume. Be careful, I beseech you, about admitting 
new members. I am very much afraid, that, during my 
absence, you will metamorphose it from a club of friends 
into a club of editors. But not a word of this. En passant^ 
I am sorry to see the articles of literary intelligence so 
scanty. Has the former collector relaxed his industry, or 
given up the task ? or, rather, has the death of our dear 
Walter paralyzed, for the moment, his activity ? Once 
more ; I am mortified, whenever I think that no review of 
Marshall's Life of Washington has yet appeared in the 
Anthology. Would it not be well for the editors to make 
a polite request to Dr. Holmes, who deserves the honorable 
name of the American annalist, that he would undertake 
to give us a careful and adequate review of this great 
national work ? I know of no man better qualified. It is 
time to wipe away several disgraceful omissions of this sort. 
W T ebster's Dictionary has never been reviewed. Lathrop's 
Sermons ! — pray, what are our theological auxiliaries 
about ? I see no traces of their hands. 1 

To the above inadequate account of the Anthology 
is only added, that many of the Sylvas of that pub- 
lication, which were always anonymous, were fur- 
nished by my brother, particularly after his return 
from Europe, consisting of literary information, col- 
lected there, which was too trifling or insufficient to 
weave into a graver article. 

It may seem astonishing to some minds, that, occu- 
pied as he was with the parochial duties of a large 


society, he could find time and inclination to devote 
to a publication like the Anthology. But, as has 
been observed in another page of this memoir, he 
was a student, in the truest meaning of the word. 
He loved study for itself, and devoted himself cheer- 
fully to the self-denial which a life of study demands ; 
and, in his favorite pursuits, he met with little or no 
sympathy from others to animate his solitary labors 
beneath the midnight lamp. It was, therefore, the 
greatest delight, and the most agreeable relaxation, to 
him, to meet with friends and associates in those 
lighter pursuits where the Muses and the Graces 
mingled, in the pages of the Anthology. 

To afford some idea of the rapid intellectual survey 
by which he compassed his studies, the journal of 
his reading for rather more than a year is given. It 
comprises the reading of the year preceding his ordi- 

1 1 am induced, by the example of Gibbon and others, to 
commence a diary, which shall contain a brief record of the 
progress of my studies, and of the distribution of my time. 
I begin upon a day which finds me in the midst of the 
perusal of more than four books. Let the confession of an 
error upon this point be the first step towards amendment. 
My morning's occupation is the perusal of Benson on the 
Epistles. The translation of Dalzel's Collectanea Greeca 
occupies my spare moments. 

1 December ISth, 1603. Began the first volume of Bar- 
row's Works, folio. Read his Life, by Abraham Hill. 
Barren of interest, and written with great affectation of 

* This journal of studies belongs to the years 1804-5. It was 
the first intention of the writer to introduce it in an appendix. But 
it having been thought best to give it a place in the work, it was too 
late to insert it in the preceding chapter. 


humility. Read the first sermon on the Pleasantness of 
Religion. He is very fond of using epithets. There is 
scarcely a substantive without two or more adjectives. 

' December 22d. Finished Benson's Essay upon the 
Abolition of the Ceremonial Law, pp. 106. His obscu- 
rity, or rather his perplexity, upon some points, arises 
from the paucity of his materials. He divides the Jewish 
law into moral, political, and ceremonial ; the first always 
binding on all Christians, as part of the law of nature and 
of Christianity, where it is incorporated and improved. 
The second is obligatory upon the Jews, during the exist- 
ence of their civil polity, and its force is not impaired by 
their embracing Christianity. This makes no change in the 
civil relations of men. This law also binds the proselytes 
when inhabitants of the Jewish territory. The ceremonial 
law is not binding upon Jews, Gentiles, or Christians. 
Paul's doctrine upon this point may be stated in the follow- 
ing method : — 

4 1. The Gentile Christians he openly declared unfettered 
by it, and such was his care upon this point, that most of 
his epistles are filled with censures on the conduct of the 
Jews and Judaizing Christians who would induce the con- 
verted Gentiles to submit to its injunctions. 2. The devout 
Gentiles who had been converted to Christianity, of whom 
Cornelius and his family were the first fruits, were exhorted,, 
by the council of apostles at Jerusalem, to observe the in- 
junctions mentioned in the decree, Acts xv. To this they 
were subject by the Jewish code. 3. But neither these nor 
the Jews were really bound by the ceremonial law after the 
death of Christ, although Paul and Barnabas, to whom alone 
this was revealed, were cautious of publishing its abolition, 
in order to avoid shocking the prejudices of bigoted Jews. 

1 Subject for a sermon, to illustrate the character of Paul 
from this subject. 

' Read Gibbon's Miscellaneous Works, 2 vols., pp. 300. 
Wharton's Life of Pope. It contains little more information 


than Johnson's, and is written with great slovenliness of 

' December 22d. Reviewed Benson's Essay. Continued 
Gibbon. In reading, his method was to follow the suit of 
his ideas, rather than that of his books. This demanded an 
inexhaustible library. The principal source of his erudition 
seems to have been the Memoirs of the Academy of Belles 
Lettres, a book not to be procured here. One reason of 
our having so few learned men is, the want of books. 

' December 21th. Eead Benson's Two Essays upon 
the Government of the Primitive Church and their Public 
Worship. The following are some of his conclusions : — 
That the apostles, at their first planting of any church, did 
not ordain any officers, but left it to the direction of some 
of the first converts, called elders. That this title, so often 
mentioned in the New Testament, signified no regular 
officer. Their regular officers were usually ordained at 
the second visit of the apostles. The expression "ordain- 
ing elders " is interpreted by Benson to mean, ordaining 
elders to be bishops and deacons. These, after they were 
ordained, were sometimes spoken of under the names of 
elders and priests, till at length the name of " bishop " was 
appropriated to the presiding bishop, to distinguish him 
from the other bishops, who were, in the second century, 
presbyters or elders. Ignatius is the strongest authority on 
the episcopal side ; but he does not intimate that his bishop 
was a diocesan bishop, but only a parochial bishop. 

1 January 1st, 1804. Began Belsham's Elements of the 
Philosophy of the Human Mind. It is ridiculously exact 
and copious on the subject of syllogisms. In every other 
part of logic, his compendium is useful and his definitions 
accurate. Read, same day, Barrow's Sermons on the Duty 
of Prayer, — sixth and seventh sermons, pp. 48-63. 

4 January 2d. Read forty-four pages in Benson's second 
volume. Mr. Tracy's Speech in the Senate, on the passage 
of the Amendment of the Constitution as respects the choice 



of President. He shows, that, in the Constitution, there are 
several marks of concession and compromise between the 
large and small States. That the Senate is a body chosen 
and constituted on the federative principle of State equality, 
which was the principle of the old Confederation. That the 
House of Representatives is elected on the popular principle 
of a majority of members, and, of course, the larger States, 
who send the greater number of representatives, will always 
rule here. He shows, that, in the old mode of choosing 
President, by voting for two persons, it was intended that 
there should be a chance of no electoral choice, which 
would throw the ultimate decision into the hands of the 
House of Representatives, voting by States. In such an 
event, the small States would recover that influence which 
they would not have enjoyed in the popular manner, because 
their proportion of electors would be very small. But the 
present amendment goes to secure a choice by the electors 
in the first instance. Of course, the great States will always 
have it in their power to give a President to the Union, and 
the federative principle is destroyed. The Constitution 
requires two thirds of the House to concur in an amend- 
ment. Tracy and Plumer, New Hampshire, contended 
that this means two thirds of the whole House, and not of 
the members present. 

' January 6th. Finished Belsham. A most masterly 
compendium and recapitulation of the argument of neces- 
sity, and a fair statement of the libertarian objections. The 
definition of philosophical liberty, given by Gregory, is 
worthy of remark. Read, in the Monthly, review of 
Dodson's Isaiah, and Sturgis's reply. 

' January 8th. Read 3d No. of Edinburgh Review. 
Gentz Etat de VEurope, a most masterly work. Shep- 
herd's Poggia Bracciolina. The reviewer here intimates 
an opinion that the praises which have been bestowed upon 
Roscoe's work are above its merits. When I formerly 
gave such an opinion, it was reprobated without mercy. 


Hayley's Life of Cowper. It is curious to observe the 
different decisions of these Scotch reviewers and the 
Monthly, in their character of Hayley's style. The Scotch 
say, " The little Mr; Hayley writes in these volumes is by 
no means well written." The Monthly says, " A work 
which, on the whole, is very well written." In my humble 
opinion, Hayley's style is redundant, sometimes inflated, 
often slovenly. The decisions of these reviewers are 
delivered with the most dogmatical air, and with all the 
contemptuousness of youthful criticism. 

4 January 9th. Read, before breakfast, Price's Sermon 
on the Security of a Virtuous Course, and Barrow's on the 
same text, Prov. x. 9. Their arrangement is dissimilar. 
How much more pleasant is the style of Price, but at the 
distance of more than a century ! In the evening, read 
Priestley's Sermons on the Duty of not living to Our- 
selves and on the Danger of Bad Habits. They are both 
admirable. Read Pope's Pastorals in Wharton's edition. 
Wharton seems to write notes merely for the sake of find- 
ing fault with his author. He prefers the Pastorals of 
Theocritus to Virgil's, and says there is only one false 
rhyme in Pope's first Pastoral ! 

4 January iOth. Read Michaelis on the Epistle of Peter, 
to compare him with Benson. They agree in opinion as to 
the two most important difficulties in this epistle, namely, 
to whom it was addressed and where it was written. Read, 
also, Lardner's Letter on the Logos and his First Postscript. 
This letter was written in 1730, when the Arian controversy 
was at its height, and is a remarkable instance of private 
investigation and unbiased belief. It lay unpublished in 
the author's cabinet nineteen years. 

'•January llth. Read Lardner's Second Postscript, 
pp. 205. Read a review of a Dissertation, published by 
Teylor's ' 4 Theological Society." It proposes, as the bond 
of union of all Christians, " the belief of the Divine author- 
ity of the doctrines of Jesus." This is the only common 
principle of union. 


' January \Ath. Read Benson. His Dissertation on 1st 
of Peter, iii. 17, is more ingenious and probable than the 
other opinions which he enumerates, but even this must 
yield to the interpretation of Wakefield. 

1 Read again the review of Stewart's account of Robert- 
son in the Edinburgh Review. There is an affectation of 
refinement in this critique which sometimes disgusts the 

1 January 20th. Benson and Michaelis.' 

He goes on until February 6th. reading Benson and 
Michaelis. The remarks are omitted. 

' February 1th. Farmer on Demoniacs. 8th, finished 
Farmer. To me, he is learned, ingenious, temperate. It 
must have been very difficult for the antagonists of the 
overbearing Warburton to keep their temper. 

' February 9th. Read Symonds on the Expediency 
of Revising the English Version of the Four Gospels. 
N. B. — Wakefield has corrected, in his translation, every 
error mentioned by Symonds.' 

From this time till the first of April, he was occu- 
pied with Priestley's History of the Corruptions of 
Christianity, the Monthly Review, and Horsely's 
Charges against Priestley. He appears to have studied 
the controversy very thoroughly, and to have given 
the Trinitarian hypothesis a complete investigation. 
His remarks upon it fill ten very closely written pages 
in his commonplace book. 

' April 1st and 2d. Read Fuller's Calvinism and Socin- 
ianisrn Compared. It is an ingenious piece of argument, 
and plausible in its principle. His arguments, however, 
are in some measure drawn from inconsiderate expressions 
of Socinian writers. Vid. Belsham's Answer to Wilberforce. 


But it may be asked if the influence of Calvinistic doctrines 
should be allowed to be as great as it has been represented. 
Is not this influence rather an operation upon the passions 
than on the understanding? Is not the tendency of Calvin- 
ism that of substituting religious affections for virtuous 
actions ? Does not the whole scope of Fuller's reasoning 
go to prove that there can be no good men except 
Calvinists ? 

' Read Farmer's" Inquiry into the Temptation of Christ. 
I read a sermon of Massillon's in French every night, before 
going to bed. One or two chapters in the Greek Testament 
in the morning. 

'The only difficulty in Farmer's scheme of the Tempta- 
tion is to account for Christ's being tempted with what he 
knew to be a mere vision. 

4 April lOtJi. Read Urquhart's Commentaries on Clas- 
sical Learning. Light, graceful, entertaining. A pleasant 
lady's book ! 

' April 26th. Third volume of Priestley's History of the 
Christian Church. It is evenings' work. Cursory. Un- 
worthy of Priestley. 

1 April 27th, 28th, 29th. Bishop of London's Lectures 
on the Gospel of St. Matthew. It is impossible to commend 
this work too highly. It is plain, popular, convincing ; pure 
and even elegant in language ; eloquent in its appeals to the 
understanding and to the heart. It should belong to the 
family of every Christian. 

1 May 1st. Read Farmer on the Worship of Human 

' May 1th. Michaelis on the Introduction to the Epistle 
to the Hebrews. Read carefully the Epistle to the Hebrews 
in Wakefield's translation, comparing it with our own and 
with the original. 

' In the course of the last week, read Bishop Hoadley on 
the Sacrament. 

'May 16th, Ylth, 18th, 19th. Read Hopton Hayne's 
Scripture Account, pp. 336, 8vo. 


4 May 22d, 23d, 24th. Heron's Junius. American edition. 
2 vols. Svo. 

4 May 26th, 21th. Taylor's Scripture Doctrine of Original 
Sin, with Supplement, pp. 500. 

4 May 2$th. Read Bishop Law's Life and Character of 
Christ, pp. \42. 

4 At my father's request, read, for the second time, Ed- 
wards on Original Sin. 

4 July 3d. Began Jamieson's Vindication, pp. 567. [Here 
follow some pages of remarks.] Jamieson's Proofs from 
Scripture contain little new. 

' July 10//?. Finished Paley's Natural Philosophy. 

4 July 18th. Read Fellows's Picture of Christian Phi- 

'•August 1st. Read Marsh's Dissertation for the second 

4 August 10th. A Series of Plays on the Passions, by 
Miss Baillie. 

4 August loth to 20th. Dugald Stewart's Elements of the 
Philosophy of the Human Mind. This is the work of a truly 
original thinker. The chapters on Association, Memory, and 
Imagination, may be repeatedly perused with new pleasure 
and increasing profit. The most bigoted dogmatist cannot 
be offended. Except a new theory of conception, I find no 
innovation upon Reid's theory. 

4 August 21th. Began to read Archbishop Wake's Apos- 
tolic Fathers. The only pieces in this collection whose 
authority is undoubted are Clement's First Epistle to the 
Corinthians and Polycarp's Second to Philippians. [Here 
follow several pages of remarks upon these epistles, with 
Greek quotations.] 

4 October. Read Priestley's Controversy with Rev. Dr. 
Linn, [of Philadelphia.] Has not Linn the decided supe- 
riority in the argument? 

4 November. Wakefield's Inquiry, &c, pp. 35. [Here 
follow remarks which are omitted.] Read Bell on the 
Sacrament, pp. 204. Supplement, pp. 47. 


1 From Dibdin's Introduction to a Knowledge of Editions 
of the Classics, made out a list of classical authors to be 

Here intervenes an illness of some weeks, during 
which he writes, ' I have indulged myself in various 
and desultory reading, during the horce subsecivce of 
convalescence. 5 

4 Read Benson on Unity of Sense ; compared him with 
Michaelis on Quotations from the Old Testament. [Here 
follow remarks which are omitted.] 

4 January, 1805. Read Toulmin's Life of Faustus Socin- 
ius, pp. 471, 8vo. It is one of the most hasty and meagre 
compilations I ever read. The facts in the Life of Socinius 
are few, and the volume is swelled with long extracts from 
his works. He was an Italian, born in Sienna, 1531). It 
is probable that the sentiments of his uncle Loelius had 
more influence on the mind of Faustus, in forming his 
opinions, than Toulmin is willing to admit. It appears 
that Faustus paid no attention to theological inquiries till 
he had attained the age of thirty years, so that, for his 
opinions, we must probably look to his uncle. Neither can 
we discover that his mind passed through any of those 
successive revolutions of opinion, which have marked, and 
must mark, the intellectual history of eminent men. He 
does not appear to have digested his peculiar creed with 
any great method or accuracy, and his sentiments are 
frequently inconsistent, and sometimes obscure. 

4 Disney's Life of Jortin is still more meagre and unin- 

' Teignmouth's Life of Sir William Jones. Lord Teign- 
mouth insinuates that Sir William believed the Divinity of 
Jesus Christ according to the articles of the Church of 
England, of which nothing he has quoted affords conclusive 
evidence ; and also the common doctrine of atonement, of 


which there is not one word in all Sir William ever wrote. 
But he grounds his assertion on this clause in one of his 
prayers, — " the mercy of God through Jesus Christ." 

' Read Rotherham on Faith. I am exceedingly disap- 
pointed in this essay. It was written to counteract the 
enthusiasm of the Methodists. It is a good antidote against 
Antinomianism, but removes few of the difficulties respect- 
ing the meaning of the word faith. I have learned, by 
repeated disappointments, not to form too high expectations 
of a work which I have heard often commended and seen 
often quoted. 

c Read Sallust's Catiline and Jugurtha in Hunter's edition. 
I have lately read Xenophon again. Also Gilbert Wake- 
field's Life. 

4 Read Locke's Vindication of the Reasonableness of 
Christianity ; and his Conduct of the Understanding, and 
Letters to Molineux. Mr. Locke often seems anxious to 
express to some friend, in person, the result of his inquiries. 
O that his conferences with Molineux, when he came to 
England, could have been recorded ! Should we not have 
learned more of the doctrine of association and of nice 
points in theology ? 

1 June. Finished Lowth on Sacred Poetry, comparing it 
with Michaelis. 

' September. President Nott preached in Brattle Street. 
The fullest audience ever known there except on ordination 
day. Epigram made on him by Josiah Quincy : — 

" Delight and instruction have people, I wot, 
Who in seeing, not see, and in hearing, hear not." 

1 Burnet, De Fide et Officiis. Pleasant and catholic. It 
might be of use if translated into English. 

8 Read Le Clerc's Ars Critica. What a wonderful man 
was Le Clerc ! Learned, to an extent almost unequalled 
by any who have succeeded him ; liberal, perhaps to a fault ; 


perspicuous and pleasant in his critical works ; the worthy- 
successor of Grot ius ; the contemporary of Bayle ; and the 
model of the Jortins and Lowths and Warburtons, who have 
since admired and imitated him. What might not have been 
expected from him, had he enjoyed the light thrown upon 
criticism and theology since his death ! Read, also, Le 
Clerc's five Letters on Inspiration, pp. 237. 

4 Read G. Sharp's book on the Greek Article. His first 
rule, which is the only important one, is, that when two 
nouns of personal description follow one another, the first 
of which has the article, and the second not, and they are 
connected with a copulative, they both refer to the same 
subject. The most important passage, which would be 
affected by this rule, is in Titus ii. 13, which he would 
render, ' appearance of Jesus Christ, the great God and 
Saviour.' But the exceptions are so numerous that the rule 
is almost useless, and thus instances contradicting it are 
found without difficulty. Gregory Blunt's Six Letters are 
hardly a satisfactory reply, because he argues rather from 
the nature of the thing than from a critical inquiry into the 
use of the Greek article. Wistanley's vindication of our 
common version in the texts in question, is, to my mind, 
decisive, though he is exceedingly biased in some of his 
remarks by his Arian system. 

''October 1st. Morgan's Collection of Tracts, occasioned 
by the Trinitarian Controversy. London, 1726. Read 
Maury's Eloge de St. Augustin et de Fenelon. What can 
exceed the onction of the latter saint-like man and writer ? 
The life of Augustin is a true extravaganza.' 

During the whole time of this journal, he was 
studying Hebrew and translating Greek, beside 
writing his earliest sermons. 

Actively engaged as my brother had been in the 
year since his settlement, his health had by no means 
improved. The attacks of his malady had so far 



increased, that, as appears from a record which he 
kept among his private papers, they had been nearly 
double the number of the preceding year. In the 
spring of 1806, his intimate friends, among whom 
was an eminent physician, the elder Dr. Warren, ad- 
vised relaxation, a total suspension of study, and a 
voyage to Europe. In his letter to his parish, re- 
questing leave of absence, he says, 'It would be 
superfluous for me to dwell upon the painful senti- 
ments with which I suggest the idea of this tempo- 
rary separation, for our mutual attachment to each 
other is too great to need any assurance of this kind.' 

The proposal, as did every thing which had a near 
or remote tendency to improve his health and alle- 
viate his cares, met with the prompt and generous 
acquiescence of the Brattle Street society. 

His father consented with reluctance to this sepa- 
ration. In his letter, in answer to the one informing 
him of the generous acquiescence of the parish, he 
says, ' I shall deeply regret that you should be so 
long absent, — perhaps, to me, for ever absent, — but 
my principle has always been to sacrifice my wishes 
to the interests of my children.' His father was at 
this time suffering from deep depression, augmented 
by many causes besides the recent death of his second 
wife. At the times of his depression, he was always 
discouraged respecting the state of religion in his 
parish, the little good that he had been able to effect, 
and a general fear of unfaithfulness. At this time, 
he wrote to his son in this desponding strain : — 

4 My daughters are amiable ; they strive to make my 
desolate home cheerful to me ; they try to surround their 


broken-hearted father with many comforts, that he may 
forget his inestimable loss ; but I have no evidence that they 
are the subjects of grace, or that they belong to the new 

In conformity with Dr. Buckminster's theory of 
religion, he could not regard his children with entire 
approbation, because Calvinism makes no appeal to 
the sentiment of duty; — nature and grace are op- 
posed. That which he could approve was not any 
amiable disposition, strengthened by effort, but some- 
thing superinduced ; he must have regarded them, 
therefore, rather with tenderness and pity than with 
respectful approbation. 

It cannot be denied, also, that one cause of the 
father's depression was his disappointment in his 
son's views of religion, and the general prevalence of 
liberal interpretations of Christianity. This, in him, 
was not the result of bigotry. To him, a sincere 
Calvinist, his own interpretation of the meaning of 
Christ and the apostles was vital to the peace of his 
heart. It was the life's breath of his religion, the 
aliment of his devotion, the only sure support of his 
hopes of the future bliss of heaven. He could not 
but acknowledge that his son's life was exemplary ; 
that his preaching had not only been admired, but 
attended with eminent success; that his example had 
been alluring to the young to induce them to lead a 
religious life ; and yet he felt that the foundation of 
all this was false and insecure. 

When the voyage was finally determined upon, he 
wrote to his son in a more encouraging and cheerful 



' May 6, 1806. 

1 My dear Son, — I have hoped that I should be able to 
see you again before you sailed ; and when Mr. Lowell 
came in last evening, the hope brightened again ; but I have 
so much of a cold, in consequence of exposures, by which 
my habitual cough is much increased, that I am persuaded 
it is imprudent to think of going again to Boston, even 
though so many disappointments are the consequence of my 
remaining at home. 

'Your voyage is fixed and determined upon, and, as far 
as I can judge, upon those principles and with those views 
by which we must be governed in the present state. You 
may, therefore, I conceive, consider it a matter of duty, and 
have nothing else to do but to undertake it with firmness 
and religious confidence, and pursue it with a constant reli- 
ance upon Divine Providence for support, protection, and 
restraint. And we, who are left bereaved, have nothing to 
do but to acquiesce, to follow you with our best wishes and 
prayers, and to look and long for the time of your return. 
You will be in new situations, and new scenes will be con- 
tinually opening to your view ; I hope you will endeavor to 
be always self-possessed, and under the commanding influ- 
ence of reason and religion, and let neither your fears nor 
your joys transport you. You have probably often heard 
me mention a resolution of your own dear mother's, early 
formed, and steadily adhered to, ' never to let her passions 
so far get the ascendancy as to disqualify her for acting, 
or hurry her to resolutions or conduct which her reason and 
her conscience would not afterwards approve.' 

4 If you should be tolerably well on shipboard, and have 
pleasant weather, I hope you will find yourself disposed to 
serve, and your shipmates desirous and willing to regard 
you, as the regular chaplain to the ship ; and while the 
master is taking his observation of the material heavens, 
the minister on board will be daily endeavoring to help him, 
and all others, to take observation of the heavens that are 


higher than they ; and that your track through the ocean, 
instead of being marked with profanity, will be distinguished 
from others by prayer and praises to God. If you should 
meet with storms and tempests, you will remember who 
holdeth the winds in his fists, and who is able to say, 
" Peace, be still." Let not the admonition, that was once 
addressed to a sleeping prophet, be ever addressed to you. 

' When you get to the land of science, of wealth, and 
of wonderful improvement in the arts, and see great men, 
and witness great events, I hope you will not forget that 
the most wonderful character that was ever on the earth is 
the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the knowledge of him is 
true science, and love and obedience to him true wisdom, 
and that if any man would become truly wise, he must 
become a fool in the estimation of the men of the world. 

8 To say that I am not anxious about you, my son, would 
be to belie the father and his feelings ; but I am able, in all 
humility, to commit you to that God to whom I early gave 
you, who has always watched over you, and who, I trust, 
will still keep you. To him may you yet be made a faithful 
son and servant. The last prayer of a father is, may the 
voyage establish your health, improve your mind, increase 
your piety, perfect you in the love of God, and in due time 
restore you to your friends and duties, in the fulness of the 
blessing of the Gospel of Christ. 

8 Your affectionate father.' 

' May 6, 1806. 

8 My dear Father, — The time approaches when I must 
bid adieu to much that I fervently love. It is one of the 
severest trials that I ever experienced, and that was not a 
small part of it which I endured at Portsmouth. I am 
sometimes tempted to hope that you will not come up 
before I go.' 

A few days after ; — = 

' Tuesday morning. By God's help I have gone through 



the most painful circumstances attending my departure, that 
is, the exercises on the Sabbath. I preached all day, and 
was very much disappointed that Mr. Lowell did not return. 

' I am waiting with anxiety, expecting eveiy moment a 
summons to go on board ; but if the wind gets round to the 
eastward, I shall have another day of pain in taking leave. 
Indeed, my dear sir, all the trials of my life have borne no 
kind of proportion to the anguish of this departure, for I 
have been overwhelmed with kindness and affection. A 
whole life of devotion can hardly repay it. 

' I am afraid I shall not be able to hear how your cold is. 
Your letter did not alarm me much, though, upon reflection, 
I have been afraid that your cough is more serious. The 
Sally will sail in ten days for Liverpool, when you must not 
fail to write me particularly. My love to my dear sisters. 
God in his mercy for ever bless them ! They shall have a 
line by the return of the pilot-boat. 

4 Your dear son.' 

During my brother's absence, his salary was con- 
tinued, and he bore the expense of supplying the 
pulpit. Under this liberal arrangement, a committee 
was appointed to engage the preachers, and his father 
went five times to Boston to preach for his son. It 
was so arranged that he usually administered the 
communion. At such times, he visited those of the 
parish who were ill, or who desired ministerial visits. 
To show that his letters were not always filled with 
serious admonitions, one is here introduced, written 
when he visited Boston the first time after his son's 
absence : — 

' Boston, June 2, 1806. 

' My dear Son, — Among the flood of letters which you 
will receive by the hand of Mr. Thacher, and the happiness 
you will experience in unexpectedly finding him so soon 


after you, it will be gratifying to you to have a line from 
your father, who, more than any man living, naturally cares 
for your state, and whose comfort and earthly happiness 
depend more naturally upon you than upon any other. I 
intended to have written to you by the Sally, but the vessel 
sailed before my return from Northampton, where I spent 
the last Sabbath with my old college friend and companion, 
Mr. Williams, whom I found exceedingly full of ministerial 
duty, there being a very great attention to religion among 
his young people. I returned to Boston the morning of 
election-day, and entered into the hubbub and excitement of 
election and convention. Mr. Shepherd, the preacher on 
election-day, is a man of talents and of piety ; but it was so 
late before the jangling and wrangling court* could get 
prepared to go to the meeting-house, that many of the 
audience thought his sermon too long. Dr. Lyman, of Hat- 
field, preached the convention sermon in your desk, and 
delivered a concio ad clerum with his usual independence, 
animation and zeal; and, though it contained some senti- 
ments a little different from those which have lately been 
heard there, I think they are not different from what may 

yet be there heard again 

1 Sabbath evening. I have been all this day in your 
pulpit, attempting to preach to your people. Having left 
my gown at home, Deacon Thacher furnished me with his 
father's ; but alas ! it did not make me the popular and be- 
loved preacher that he was. Some old ladies looked very 
hard at the gown, but heard not the voice " so wonderfully 
sweet." I introduced into the church those persons who 
were propounded before you went, and propounded two 
others. The two Governors, Strong and .Sullivan, were at 
the communion-table. I could not but think how they 
felt towards each other. I dined at Deacon Storer's, in 

* This was after a bitterly contested election between Gov. Strong 
and Gov. Sullivan. 



company with 

and preached this afternoon upon 

the wisdom and goodness of Providence in all its dispen- 

' I hope, my dear son, you will take due precaution, in 
your journeying, that you do not expose yourself to acci- 
dents. You will not travel, I trust, without a companion, 
nor without a servant. I hope you will read and study very 
little, and pray much. Many new temptations will assail 
you. Let your heart be established by grace and the fear 
and love of God. Trust not in any creature, however ex- 
alted, but trust in the living God. My dearest son, to God 
I commend you, and with him I leave you. 





1806-7. Mr. Buckminster embarked in the packet- 
Aged 23. gj^p j b n Adams, about the 10th of May, for 
Liverpool, where he arrived June 6th, and from thence 
travelled by post-horses to London, where he was re- 
ceived at the house of Samuel Williams, Esq. the 
brother of his excellent friends, the Lymans. There 
he again met his early friend, Mr. Francis Williams, 
and his residence was made delightful by every atten- 
tion that refined hospitality and sincere attachment 
could bestow. Early in August he was joined by his 
intimate friend, Rev. Samuel C. Thacher, and to- 
gether they embarked for the continent, and landed 
at Harlingen, on the Zuyder Zee. They passed 
rapidly through Holland and a part of Belgium, as- 
cended the Rhine, and, partly on foot, made a tour 
of Switzerland. My brother kept a very full journal 
of this journey upon the continent, of which a small 
part has been published in a letter to a friend, de- 
scribing the fall of part of the Rossburg mountain in 
Switzerland. They were often put to inconvenience 
in this tour by meeting with Bonaparte's new-made 
kings, also on their travels, who usually monopolized 
all the post-horses, and made humble travellers wait. 


Readers have been so completely satiated with travels 
in Holland and Switzerland, that no extracts from 
the journal in those countries will be introduced here. 
It may be remarked, that the description of the fall 
of the Rossburg * is a fair specimen of its merits. 

As soon as he arrived in London, he found himself 
in the midst of a delightful circle of friends. A short 
extract from his journal while there will give some 
idea of the enchantment of this society to a young 
man of twenty-three. 

4 Tuesday, June 26th. Dined with Dr. Rees, editor of 
the Encyclopedia. Introduced to Dr. Aiken and his son 
Charles. To Mr. Jones, the author of a Greek grammar. 
At the dinner there was a truly pleasant and instructive con- 
versation. It turned upon the evidences of a future state 
from the light of nature. Dr. Rees is a man of amiable 
manners, various learning, some anecdote, and talents more 
than common. 

6 Thursday, 2$th. Breakfasted with Mr. Jones. We had 
a truly learned and delightful conversation. Mr. Jones had 
studied with Gilbert Wakefield. 

' Monday, July 2d. Went to the British Museum at 
twelve o'clock. Dined at Mr. William Vaughan's, in com- 
pany with Granville Shai-p, Dr. Aiken and Charles, Mr. 
Ellis, a writer in the Edinburgh Review. G. S. fully be- 
lieves in the agency of a personal devil in the vices of 

' Tuesday. Dined at Dr. Rees's, with Mr. Belsham, Mr. 
Tooke, Mr. William Taylor of Norwich. Conversation de- 
lightful. The tone is certainly higher than with us. 

4 Wednesday. At Mr. William Vaughan's, with a learned 

# Published first in the Anthology. It also makes a part of J. S. 
Buckminster's Works, first collected in 1839. 


4 Thursday. Breakfasted at Sir Joseph Banks's. Intro- 
duced to Sir Charles Blagden,and Mr. William Smith, Presi- 
dent of the Linncean Society. Dined with Mr. Jones. 
Introduced to Dr. Young, of the Scots' Church. 

4 Saturday. Dined at Hackney, with Mr. Belsham. 

8 Sunday. Attended church at the Foundling Hospital. 

4 Monday. Dined at the Rev. Mr. Jervis's, Gray's Inn 
Square, with a large party. Supped at Gilbert Wakefield's, 
with only his daughter present. 

4 Tuesday. Dined at Sir Joseph Banks's in the country. 
Present, Sir Charles Blagden, Mr. Dalrymple, author of a 
Collection of Voyages, Mr. William Smyth, by favor of a 
ticket from whom, 1 went to the House of Commons in the 
evening. Subject : American Intercourse bill. Mr. Grant, 
Master of the Rolls, spoke against it. Lord Henry Petty in 
explanation. Next day, I was introduced to Lord Henry 
Petty at Mr. Vaughan's, and to Mr. Planta, Librarian of the 
British Museum. 

4 Thursday. Dined at Mr. Grant's, Master of the Rolls. 
' July 8th. Called on Mr. Wilberforce, by appointment, 
and found him at dinner. As I was engaged to dine, I ac- 
cepted an invitation for another day.' 

A month was passed in this delightful manner in 
London, and he had invitations from a constantly 
increasing circle of literary persons for another 
month. But an attack of his complaint warned him 
that he must complete his tour in Switzerland before 
cold weather, and he and his friend, Mr. Thacher, 
tore themselves away from the fascination of London 

From Switzerland the friends directed their course 
to Paris, where their residence was protracted to more 
than five months, while nearly all correspondence 


with England was cut off by the operation of the 
Berlin and Milan decrees. At the same time, there 
was no direct communication with the United States 
from France. The enchantments of Paris failed in 
some degree of their influence upon my brother. 
Even where the treasures of the whole continent 
were collected, he could not be entirely contented, 
because the objects that would most conduce to the 
great purpose of his life were not there. He meas- 
ured every thing, not by the relations of pleasure, 
but of duty, and dwelt 

' As ever in the great Taskmaster's eye.' 

He kept no journal of his residence in Paris, but 
merely wrote with a pencil, in a common pocket- 
book, descriptions of some of the interesting persons 
with whom he became acquainted. These are nearly 
effaced; the names of Madame de Stael, Benjamin 
Constant, Count Rumford, only give rise to regret 
that the remarks of so young and fresh an observer 
upon persons now consecrated for ever to fame should 
be lost. He witnessed two very interesting events 
in Paris. At the sitting of the great Jewish Sanhe- 
drim, convened by Napoleon, in the winter of 1806-7, 
he was present, and took notes. He was also present 
at the reception of Cardinal Maury at the Institute. 
It was to have been a grand public reception, but the 
Cardinal insisted upon being addressed by the title of 
Monsigneur, which he conceived he had a right to 
demand, but which his colleagues of the Institute 
were not disposed to grant. The dispute was sub- 
mitted to the Emperor, who postponed the public re- 
ception. It was therefore private, but not the less 


These five months in Paris, amid the unapprecia- 
ble and inexhaustible treasures of Europe and of the 
fine arts at this time collected and stored there by 
Bonaparte, must have been most rich in instruction. 
Probably the strict surveillance exercised over foreign- 
ers, especially those so much resembling Englishmen, 
was the reason that no journal or record was kept of 
his residence in Paris. Much of his time was spent 
in collecting and sending to America a valuable libra- 
ry of the choicest writers in theological, classical, and 
general literature, amounting to about three thousand 
volumes. For this purpose he spent nearly the whole 
of his little maternal fortune, saying to himself, ' Thou 
hast goods laid up for many years.' This exulting 
remark is immediately followed by the reflection, — 
< Although I may, by the Providence of God, be cut 
ofT from the enjoyment of these luxuries of the mind, 
they will be a treasure to those who may succeed me, 
like the hoards of a miser scattered after his death. 
I feel that, by every book which I send out, I do 
something for my dear country, which the love of 
money seems to be depressing into unlettered bar- 

It must be remembered that this was written forty 
years ago ; and perhaps remarks like the above, and 
the energies of his young mind directed to this pur- 
pose, did something towards awakening the love of 
literature, which has since gone hand in hand with 
the love of money, in that part of the State which 
claimed his fondest affection. 

Since the days of this visit to the old world, the 

public has become so familiar with the objects of 

interest which claimed his attention, that great reluc- 



tance has been felt to make such selections from his 
letters as will continue the thread of the narrative. 
Had they been published at the time they were writ- 
ten, when England and France were comparative^ 
new to travellers from the United States, they would 
have possessed an interest from the freshness of re- 
mark every where exhibited. As the reflection has 
been constantly forced upon me, that the places and 
objects of art have become familiar to us, and that 
the persons with whom he became acquainted, how- 
ever celebrated then, have faded from the memory 
of the present, I have erased page after page of letters 
that I had copied, and have retained only th se which 
exhibit the mind and feelings of the writer ; so that, 
if an interest has been awakened in him, they may, 
by their personality, impart more freshness to this 
memoir of his life. 

We go back to his arrival in Liverpool, and begin 
with his first letter. To his father : — 

' Liverpool, June 6th, 1806. 

4 My dear Father, — Every thing seems to have con- 
spired, under the blessing of God, 1o make our passage 
pleasant, safe, and quick. I have now been a few hours in 
Liverpool, and find that a vessel sails early to-morrow morn- 
ing for Boston. These few lines will tell you that we had a 
passage of twenty-three days ; that I have hardly known 
any of the dangers or trials of the sea. I cannot find a 
single subject of complaint in any of the circumstances of 
this voyage. The order of the ship was surprising, and far 
beyond what I had anticipated. I have not heard more than 
three instances of profane language on board, which I could 
not have said if I had remained in Boston. We had reli- 
gious services on every Sabbath ; once, I read printed ser- 
mons, and the other days my own. The shortness of the 


passage will hardly allow me to form any opinion of its 
probable effect on my health. But, whether it should be 
favorable or useless, or even unfavorable, I shall submit, I 
hope, with resignation, satisfied that the step I have taken 
was the dictate of duty. 

' I cannot be sufficiently grateful to the kind and protect- 
ing Providence of God, which has made my voyage so 
pleasant, so safe, and so short. I shall have company up 
to London, where I shall go in a few days, by the way of 
Manchester. My love to my dear sisters and all friends. 
God grant that I may never again be obliged to undergo the 
dreadful pain of parting from them ! ' 

He writes the same day to his sisters : — 

1 Within the last hour, I put my foot on the wharf at 
Liverpool, after a passage of twenty-three days from Boston. 
I have very few wonders, or " moving accidents by flood," 
to recount ; but the trifling varieties of my voyage will not, 
I am confident, be more interesting to any person in my 
dear native land than to you, my beloved sisters, who have 
so often listened, with concern and pleasure, to the narra- 
tive of your dear brother's fortunes when at home ; and I 
am sure the eagerness with which you will receive this 
letter, compared with the eagerness with which you have 
formerly opened my letters, will be increased quite in pro- 
portion to the distance. During the voyage, I gazed fre- 
quently, thinking of you, my beloved sisters, with silent 
wonder and delight, at the sun, quenching his fiery beams 
as he sank in the waves of the western ocean, and enjoyed 
the thought that to you, in Portsmouth, he had not yet dis- 
appeared ; but that you would be blessed, this day, with 
several hours more of sunshine, (may it be also that of the 
heart,) after your brother had retired to rest 

' Nothing alarming or wonderful occurred during the re- 
mainder of our voyage. We have taken excellent lodgings 
at the Star and Garter, in Liverpool. The gentleman to 


whom I have had letters of introduction have treated me 
with every possible civility. The Rev. Mr. Yates, a dis- 
senting minister, in Liverpool, to whom I delivered my first 
letter asked me to dine with him the next day, (Sunday,) 
and urged me much to preach for him ; but I declined. In 
the evening, I walked out with his son, and took tea at his 
son's little elegant cottage, about a mile from the town ; 
returned about nine o'clock, and supped with the Rev. Mr. 
Yates and a few friends, to some of whom I had letters of 

'-June 13th. The ladies in Liverpool dress much, and 
are rather fond of being gazed at. You would be aston- 
ished to find how stout and robust are the English women. 
I have hardly seen ten slender forms ; though the defect is 
amply compensated by the healthiness of their complexions, 
and the native glow of their cheeks. But a young lady in 
Mrs. N.'s boarding-school, if she found herself as gross as 
the most fashionable Liverpool belles, would be unhappy 
from morning to night. Another circumstance, which forci- 
bly strikes an American, is, the prodigious number of women 
of the lower order who fill the streets, so that you contin- 
ually see three women at least to one man. Their appear- 
ance is the most direful you can imagine. They perform 
labor of the heaviest and dirtiest kind, such as would soon 
kill an American woman. But, my dearest sisters, I must 
finish this letter, for it is time to set off for Manchester, on 
my way to London. Mr. Williams writes that he is ex- 
pecting me, and has prepared rooms for my use in his 
house, No. 13, Finsbury Square. I shall spend to-morrow 
and next day in Manchester, and reach London, I hope, 
before the 19th, as I must appear at the Alien Office by that 

' When I am a little more collected, I hope I shall write 
to you a better and longer letter. God bless you, my dear 
sisters, and train you up for both worlds. Write me very 
particularly and unreservedly about papa's health. 

' Your affectionate brother.' 


To Mrs. Lyman : — 

' Manchester, June 14, 1806. 

4 My dear Madam, — I cannot let the first impressions, 
which I received upon visiting this delightful country, wear 
away without communicating them to you, who feel an 
interest in the improvement and ornamental cultivation of 
the soil of New England. In driving from Liverpool to 
Manchester, — where I shall remain as little time as possible, 
for Manchester is the region of volcanoes, and as smoky as 
the work-shop of Vulcan, — I was exclaiming, at every rod 
of ground I passed over, What an exquisite country ! what 
delightful openings ! what rich fields ! what tasteful clumps ! 
what velvet lawns ! what luxuriant vegetation ! And yet this 
is the least ornamented part of England. 

1 July Wtli. Thus far I wrote in Manchester, not sus- 
pecting that I should not take up my pen again till I 
reached London. And now, in the smoke and dust, of this 
astonishing city, I bid adieu (i cannot say a reluctant adieu) 
to the most charming country on the face of the earth ; for 
I must yet acknowledge, although with some shame, that 
the literary luxury of the city has more charms for me than 
even the park at Blenheim, adorned as it is with the oaks 
of the last century, and enlivened with the gambols of fifteen 
hundred deer. 

' I stop to tell you that I have just received letters from 
Boston. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart ; but 
they have spoiled this day's sport; I shall see nothing in 
London to-day with any pleasure. Home, home will fill 
my heart. Tell Mr. Lyman that he need be under no 
apprehension about my reading, for in truth I find not a 
moment even to write a line of a journal, which I proposed 
to keep, and hardly to repay the kindness of the friends 
who have written to me. Mr. Thacher has arrived, in fine 
health. I cannot express to you the addition which his 
presence makes to the obligation under which I am laid 
to my friends in Boston. 



' Perhaps you will be amused with hearing of some of 
my excursions. Well, then : last Tuesday, I went out with 
Mr. William Vaughan to dine at Sir Joseph Banks's, who, 
you know, has a great reputation all over the world for his 
science and literary courtesy. Upon our arrival, we were 
introduced into the garden, which serves for a drawing- 
room in the summer. The first object that presented itself 
was a tall woman, dressed in men's clothes. This proved 
to be Lady Banks's sister. You will hardly credit me when 
I tell you that she wore a man's hat, with a black plume, a 
cravat, a shirt with a wide frill, a short huntsman's coat, 
wristbands and sleeve-buttons visible, with no mark of her 
sex but a short petticoat ; and this, I am told, is a fashion- 
able riding dress ! After waiting a little time, appeared 
Sir Joseph, who has such an inveterate gout, that he moves 
with his legs far apart, at the rate of about ten feet in ten 
minutes. Last of all entered my lady, who is truly a moving 
mountain of flesh and blood ; and if ever Sir John FalstafT 
had been allowed by Shakspeare to have taken a wife, this 
would have been the cara sposa for him. There were 
several other gentlemen at dinner. It is not etiquette for 
the hostess to pay much attention to her company, and I, 
who sat next to her, was abundantly employed in helping 

' The gentlemen do not hand the ladies to the table. 
They sit a reasonable time after the cloth is removed, and 
presently we are summoned into the drawing-room, where 
coffee is provided, of which it is the fashion to take one 
cup ; tea is handed afterwards. But to return to Lady 
Banks : her favorite passion is to collect china ; and she 
has indeed collected a superb variety of dishes, jars, pots, 
cups, saucers, bowls, ornaments, of all ages, colors, sizes, 
brilliancy, value, and brittieness. A more capricious toy- 
shop I never beheld, though I was obliged to keep a very 
grave face of wonder and admiration, while she dissertated 
learnedly upon the separate pieces, and looked at them for 


the thousandth time, with all the enthusiasm with which a 
painter would gaze at the Transfiguration. Sir Joseph has 
written a large book upon the subject of his lady's china, 
containing dissertations upon the antiquity of certain pieces 
connected with the different epochs of china history. This 
book is introduced with a dedication to Lady Banks, and 
loaded with the most fulsome address to the royal family, 
who once honored my lady's china-room with a visit. Sir 
Joseph cultivates the American cranberry with great suc- 
cess, and his ponds are filled with our water-lilies. 

' I need not say that I have every comfort at 3^our 
brother's. I am trying to persuade Francis to accompany 
me to the continent 

1 But T must cease writing, or you will cease reading. 
Farewell ! May God with his choicest blessings have you 
and your family in his holy keeping ! 

' Your dear friend, 

■ J. S. B.' 

To his father : — 

< London, June 23d, 1806. 

4 My dear Sir, — I rejoice to inform you that I arrived 
safely the day before yesterday ; that I am agreeably 
accommodated at Mr. Williams's, in Finsbury Square ; and 
although this is in the city, as it is called, and very remote 
from that part of the town to which most of my letters are 
directed, yet I much prefer the conveniences of this resi- 
dence to more fashionable lodgings at the west end. 

4 The expenses of travelling in this country are enor- 

' This is intolerable to an American, but it is not to be 
avoided. In this country, you must either pay money libe- 
rally, or you will be paid liberally in abuse. 

4 Most of the persons to whom I have been introduced 
in England are Dissenters, and, of course, Foxites in their 
politics. Many of the most violent of them, however, begin 
to be uneasy at the tardiness with which Mr. Fox proceeds 


in those measures of reform to which he has always pro- 
fessed himself a friend. 

4 1 attended meeting yesterday at the old Jewry, formerly 
a very celebrated place of worship among the Dissenters, 
now very thinly attended. The forms of service reminded 
me more of New England than any thing I have yet seen 
in England. A chorister, who sat below the pulpit, always 
set the tune ; and, so natural is it for an Englishman to be 
a singer, that, really, I do not think there were twenty in 
the congregation who did not join. The preacher was Dr. 
Rees, a good, substantial old gentleman, with a discourse 
an hour long. 

' I have had some doubts about the propriety of visiting 
the places of public amusement, but I have come at last to 
the conclusion, that, in a place where my example cannot 
be of evil influence, and where it is no uncommon thing 
for clergymen to be seen, that I should reproach myself if I 
were to leave England without having observed what con- 
stitutes so great a part of the national character. 

' I should be happier if I had left no friends at home, 
but the recollection of their kindness and my own happiness 
with them, whenever it returns, causes me to feel more like 
an exile than a traveller. I could never, I am persuaded, 
have left my parish from any motive of curiosity or per- 
sonal gratification. My health, my health alone, which is 
to you and me the most interesting subject, is in no 
worse a state than when I left Boston. I hope in a few 
weeks more I shall be able to speak with some confidence. 
Hitherto God has kept my feet from falling and my soul 
from death. I have resisted all applications to preach. I 
wish to feel more settled, and more acquainted with the 
preachers and the auditories of this country, before I show 
myself in the pulpit. 

' July 8th. Since I wrote the above, I have had the 
pleasure of dining with Mr. Wilberforce, or rather of sitting 
at his table while he was dining ; for, as I was previously 


engaged, I was unwilling to spoil my dinner. He is very- 
much interested in the religious condition of the United 
States, and extremely inquisitive as to the attention paid to 
religious observances. I wish I could have given him a 
more favorable account of the practical religion of my 
dear native land, and have been able to say with confi- 
dence that our personal holiness was greater than in the 
days of yore. God grant that I may never live to see New 
England sunk in such religious indifference and public 
contempt for Christianity as prevails, I fear, in the parent 

4 1 am extremely obliged to E. for her kind letter from 
Boston ; tell her that I sincerely hope the kindness she 
receives there is paid as much to her intrinsic worth, as 
to my memory ; but I am willing that some of it should 
be shown to her on my account, because it will tend to 
keep alive in her mind a more tender recollection of her 
brother. I have had the pleasure of seeing many young 
ladies here, the daughters of clergymen and laymen ; but I 
have seen none who have not taught me to love and esteem 
my sisters more than ever. I have seen a daughter of 
G. Wakefield, who knows more Greek and Latin than any 
woman in England, and is now about to be married ; Lucy 
Aiken, daughter of Dr. Aiken, a young lady of remarkable 
talents and accomplishments ; and many others, some of 
whom are connoisseurs in painting, and some in music. 
My next letter to my sisters may be from the midst of the 
luxury of Paris or the simplicity of Switzerland. Love to 
all the little ones. What can I procure for them here which 
may be a pleasure or a profit, and remind them of their 
dear brother ? 

' I am just informed that no captain will venture to take 
us over to Rotterdam, and therefore we must take passage 
in a vile Dutch vessel for Harlingen, because the French 
officers there will let us pass for a small fee. This Dutch 
hoy is built much like a butter-boat, and called the Two 


Sisters. My present plan is to proceed to Switzerland 
so as to travel on foot through that mountain region before 
September, when it will be too cold. From Geneva we 
propose to cross the country to Schaffhausen, and thus 
to come down the Rhine. However, I may be obliged to 
deviate from this route by a thousand unforeseen circum- 

' The inclosed letter to my sisters is written chiefly for 
their entertainment. O, that they may reap half the delight 
from it that I have from reading the letters I have this 
morning received from my friends in America, among 
whom, you at Portsmouth are the dearest, therefore let 
your letters be the longest. " As cool waters," etc. Do 
not be too much grieved, my dear friends, to hear that I 
have had an ill turn in London ; it was slight, very slight, 
and after a long interval. I have hopes, great hopes. The 
hand of Providence seems to have arranged with wonderful 
favor all the past circumstances of my voyage, and of my 
situation here, and the measure of God's favor is filled by 
the arrival of my friend Thacher this morning. My last 
words are, write, write, quocunque jnodo, write. 

'Your dear son, 

' J. S. B.' 

'Rotterdam, Aug. 11th, 1806. 

'My dear Sisters, — Here I am at last, with leisure 
enough to sit down and give you a very few notices of 
my tour to this place. There is nothing in this city but 
merchants, and boats, and canals ; and after having seen 
one city in Holland, you have seen all. The streets, even 
in these most thronged quarters, are washed and scrubbed 
every day, so that you might without much inconvenience 
absolutely dine off the pavement. 

' The houses are all joined to one another, and all is 
neatness, ornament, stillness, and singularity. But though 
I am now so comfortably seated at a writing-table, in an inn 


called the Marshal Turenne, the hardships and vexations, 
the inconvenience and imposition, which I have passed 
through since I left London, as much exceed all that I 
have ever suffered before, as the accommodations of a 
well-regulated family exceed the irregularity of a dirty 
Dutch hoy. After passing through all the vexatious delays 
of the alien office in London, in order to obtain passports 
for leaving the kingdom, as there is no regular mode of 
communication with the continent, I engaged with a Dutch 
captain to take four of us over to Harlingen, for which we 
paid him ten guineas apiece ; and after going on board, we 
had each to pay two guineas more, in order to persuade 
him to drop down the river Thames to Chatham that night, 
so that we might be able to sail in the morning. When we 
reached the vessel, we found five passengers besides our- 
selves, with not the shadow of accommodation for sleeping, 
except two dirty narrow births already occupied by a gentle- 
man and his wife. Accordingly, we took our lodgings in 
the hold, where not one of us could stand upright ; and after 
three days and nights of sea-sickness, during which time 
none of us had our clothes off, we reached Harlingen. If 
you will look upon the map, you will see that, in order to 
reach Amsterdam from thence, we have to cross a large 
sea, called Zuyder Zee ; so, after a night's rest, we took 
places at four o'clock the next morning in the daily packet 
for Amsterdam. The usual length of a passage is twelve 
hours, but after creeping along the whole day till dark, we 
found that we had not accomplished half our voyage, but 
that we must remain all night on board this little vessel, 
crowded with more than fifty passengers, not a word of 
whose rough guttural gibberish could we understand. 

4 Here, after all our hardships, I found, that, in order to 
shelter ourselves from the rain, we must retreat to the 
hold of the vessel, in which they usually carry cows. 
Indeed, it was a stable. There we sat upon our trunks all 
night, with aching bones, fatigued enough to drop to sleep 


every moment, but in such inconvenient postures, that we 
could not indulge ourselves in forgetfulness. The only- 
person with whom I could hold any conversation was the 
pastor of a Protestant church at Leeuwarden. He was 
passing, like ourselves, to Amsterdam, and, hearing from 
Mr. Williams, who spoke French, that I was an American 
clergyman, he immediately began a conversation in Latin, 
which I supported with some difficulty, in consequence of 
the mode of pronouncing Latin which is universal on the 
continent. He appeared to be a most worthy man, but with 
the most preposterous notions about our country. I really 
regretted that we were obliged to part so soon. [After all, 
they could not reach Amsterdam, and were obliged to walk 
six or seven miles.] 

' I could fill quires of paper with descriptions of the 
singular manners and costumes of the Dutch, especially 
those of North Holland, but I will only tell you a little of 
the dresses of the women. Imagine a short woman, with a 
baby face, covered with the whole breadth of one of those 
straw hats which you used to buy to make bonnets, with 
two flat gold plates over the ears, to which are suspended 
a half-pound weight of gold or silver ear-rings, which have 
descended in the family through many generations. On 
her head she wears a neat, close cap, with a long streamer 
on each side, descending over the shoulders. Then comes 
a chintz gown, with a long waist down to the hips, and 
followed by at least a dozen thick petticoats, in the midst 
of summer. Their faces are as uninteresting as the Chinese, 
and their mode of dress (either of male or female) has not 
altered for two hundred years. As to the men, so outre is 
their appearance, that I can only say they were made for 
the women. Our good old Deacon Penhallow would be 
thought quite a beau compared with any Dutchman whom I 
have yet seen. The men smoke from morning to night. 
Their good qualities are neatness and punctuality. Indeed, 
so punctual are they in travelling, that they reckon by hours 
instead of miles. 


4 The dead level of Holland is a garden throughout, and, 
in passing the numerous country houses which border their 
canals, I was continually reminded of some tree or shrub 
which I had seen blooming in the garden at VValtham. We 
have just concluded to go to Switzerland, by the passage up 
the Rhine to Basle, thence to Geneva, and so back to Paris ; 
so that we shall not see the great city before the latter part 
of September, when half the population of England will 
probably have rushed to Paris to be present at the grand 
fete which Napoleon is preparing. I need not tell you that 
Lord Lauderdale is received with great joy, and that peace 
is expected to be signed in a few days. God bless you, my 
dear sisters, and make you worthy of his love and of the love 
of all the good and wise. Write to me very particularly 
about papa's health. Your dear brother, 

4 J. S. B.' 

As his account of the difficulties of travelling upon 
the continent possesses, when contrasted with the 
facilities that have since been enjoyed, a sort of his- 
torical interest, the extracts from letters of that period 
are more copious. It is curious to remark the embar- 
rassments that have been offered to travelling during 
the past year of revolutions, and the progress of pub- 
lic sentiment, which seems to produce the same diffi- 
culties that were caused by despotism fifty years 

After having been turned out of the inn at Coblentz, 

in order to accommodate Louis, King of Holland, and 

being detained there a day, because the king took 

possession of all the post-horses, they were still more 

vexed at an embargo in Strasburg, till they could 

send to Paris for permission to proceed on their 




c Strasburg, August 30, 1806. 

4 My dear Sir, — I am glad to have an opportunity to 
write you a line, though I am sadly vexed at the cause of 
my present leisure. We had travelled up the Rhine as far 
as Mayence, on our way to Switzerland with the passports 
which we took of the American Consul at Amsterdam, 
indorsed by the French Commissary in that city. These, 
we were assured, would carry us through the whole of that 
part of our route which might lie through French territory. 
At Mentz, however, upon going before the Secretary of 
Police, we learned, to our inexpressible surprise and morti- 
fication, that we could not proceed further than Strasburg 
without passports from Paris. So the police officer took 
our American passports to send them on to the capital 
there to learn if we may be permitted to travel in France 
In the mean time, he required us to take a passeporte pro 
visoire of him, to carry us to Strasburg ; and informed us 
that we should be detained there ten days, or till our per 
mits should arrive from Paris. Here, therefore, we are 
in a city where not an individual is known to us, and 
where nothing is spoken but German or French. If our 
passports should not be sent back to us, we must return to 
Holland as we came. I have not much apprehension on 
this score ; the greatest inconvenience is, that we are losing 
time and money, and that the rest of our tour must be very 
much hurried. 

4 We have hitherto seen nothing but extremes ; the most 
enchanting scenery that poet ever fancied, or painter ever 
drew, and the most wretched cities and villages which 
poverty, filth, superstition, and vice, and the residence of 
soldiery, can make. I keep a little journal, which may 
perhaps at some future time be interesting to myself, but 
cannot be very much so to any one else. The only 
Protestant church which I have seen since leaving Holland, 
is in this city, and this is Lutheran. I have been fairly 
home-sick during this tour, and I believe nothing has con- 


tributed to it more than the miserable dearth of religious 
instruction, and I fear, too, of the spirit of Christianity. 
However, though I have been a little home-sick, yet, by 
the blessing of God, my health has been otherwise unin- 
terrupted since I left England.' 

An extract from the journal of the detention of the 
travellers at Strasburg is inserted. It is a fair speci- 
men of the whole journal. 

' Strasburg, August 2Sth. Of this city I had formed 
agreeable expectations, — whether from the appearance 
of the country which preceded it, or from some pleasant 
classical associations, I know not. The Argentorum of 
the Romans has been long familiar to my imagination 
from the circumstance of the Typographical Society of 
Deuxponts removing here at the beginning of the Revolu- 
tion, from which time the title-pages of their edition of the 
classics have borne the name of Argentoratum. The lofty 
spire of the cathedral we distinctly saw at the distance of 
eight miles, and it was occasionally visible through the 
whole of the last two posts ! 

' It was Sunday, about three o'clock, when we entered the 
gate of the city, where we left our passeports provisoires. 
After dinner, we visited the interior of the cathedra], w T hich 
can hardly be said to be worthy of the exquisite richness 
and beauty of the tower ; indeed, how was it possible ? 
The church was full of confessionals, and the confessionals 
appeared to be well filled. The pillars which support the 
nave are hung with Gobeline tapestry, wrought from designs 
which picture the imaginary life of the Virgin, ending with 
her assumption. The altar and choir appear to be modern, 
and entirely unworthy the rest of the building. 

4 Every thing that we saw in Strasburg told us that it was 
rather French than German ; and the bustle, the life and 
gayety of the place, without much real business, are truly 


characteristic of French cities. We undertook to walk 
round the ramparts, but were arrested in the midst of our 
promenade by the rough command of an officer, who called 
out, " Descendez, Messieurs ! " The barracks, which are 
prodigiously extensive buildings, appeared to be full of 
soldiers, and not a few of those who saw the day of Aus- 
terlitz are here, resting from their labors and their wounds. 
The number of wounded soldiers that we see everywhere 
tells the story of the last few years. 

' The evening of Monday we passed at the Theatre Fran- 
cais and Allemande. The proportion, however, which the 
performances in French bear to those in German, is, I sus- 
pect, five or six to one. I could understand but very little 
of the comedy, but I am satisfied that the French theatre 
may be much superior to the English. They have not so 
good plays, but I am assured they have better actors. There 
is a quickness of perception, a delicacy, united with a cer- 
tain rapidity of feeling, and a continual sense of propriety 
in the management of scenes, which the English are either 
too slow or too wise to possess. The mutes on the French 
stage appear to be interested in what is going forward, and 
never stand in that awkward or listless manner .which you 
observe in England and with us. Add to this, the French 
articulation is more distinct, their pronunciation perfect, 
and their voices upon a higher key than the English. 
These observations are the hasty result of two nights' ex- 
perience, and from one who knows very little of the lan- 
guage. Perhaps a half hour at the Paris theatre will upset 
all my conclusions, and leave only these facts, which I 
believe are acknowledged on all hands, that the costume of 
the French stage is most carefully preserved and their 
declamation unrivalled. 

' Tuesday, 5, P. M. The day and the hour when I as- 
cended the tower of the cathedral of Strasburg can never 
be forgotten ; but as to describing the effect of such an 
elevation and the unrivalled prospect, it is wholly out of the 


reach of my pen. All that I had before seen and read of 
Gothic architecture had given me no idea of the richness, 
the grace, the variety, and the extreme lightness, which are 
all combined in this wonderful structure. It is the glory of 
Strasburg, the admiration of travellers, and sacred to the 
piety, almost an honor to the superstition, which erected it. 
[Here follows a description which is omitted.] 

' The great beauty of this steeple consists, first, in its 
lightness. As it is built of a very hard stone, which is now 
the color of rusty iron, the stone-work is extremely slender, 
and cut with exquisite delicacy, and strengthened with bars 
of iron. Secondly, in its complete preservation. Nothing 
is wanting of its original material except here and there the 
corner of an ornament or some unessential, minute stone. 
Thirdly, in the exquisite variety of its Gothic decorations, 
windows, and side turrets, round which the stone stairs wind 
in a graceful spiral, and are made to contribute essentially 
to the beauty of the structure. Fourthly, in its wonderful 
elevation. When you have reached the top, you have some 
leisure to think how such exquisitely wrought masses of 
stone, held together with belts and clamps of iron, could 
have been raised to such a height, and how men could have 
worked there without giddiness.' 

The journal contains, on the next page, a parallel 
between French and English character, drawn from 
his detention ten days in a French German city. 

' It is impossible to spend six days in any French city 
without discovering something of the difference of national 
character between them and their neighbors on the other 
side of the Channel. We have so often heard of the char- 
acteristic liveliness of the French, that no traveller, upon 
entering their country, is surprised to hear them continually 
talking, and that, too, with the greatest earnestness, accom- 
panied with perpetual gestures. But he may be surprised 



to find that all this noise and earnestness is, in general, 
about the veriest trifles, or the most familiar and common 
topics. The course of a Frenchman's day is totally unlike 
ours. ISagrement is his motto. He rises rather late, and 
takes his coffee, perhaps a single cup, and, at eleven, he 
has his dejeune of a chicken and a bottle of vin ordinaire. 
An Englishman, on the contrary, eats a large breakfast, 
and is busy till six, and then his dinner fills up the remainder 
of the hours. A Frenchman wears his morning gown 
through the whole day ; an Englishman esteems it a matter 
of conscience to be neatly and politely dressed before the 
hour of dinner. A Frenchman will hardly fail of being at 
the spectacle every night of the week ; this habit is as regular 
as his meals. An Englishman will scarcely exceed ten or 
twelve nights in a season. Their food is also as different 
as their dispositions. An English dinner for two or three 
persons would be a moderate joint of meat and some little 
second course ; a Frenchman could not sit down to less 
than a dozen dishes of flesh, fish, and fowl. His pottage is 
invariably the first ; then an ounce or two of beef, com- 
pletely boiled to rags. Then he breaks his bread, and 
begins upon his bottle of wine ; then comes fish, after that 
some absurd mixture of gizzards, etc. ; then a chicken, 
duck, or some odd wild fowl, a trifle, salad, dessert, etc. 
Yet, with all this rich and endless variety, they are neither 
gluttons nor epicures. They are never anticipating nor dis- 
cussing their meals ; nor do they, like the English, sit long 
at table to drink wine. When their little bottle of French 
wine is exhausted, their potations are finished. A French- 
man eats what is set before him, often what an Englishman 
would send from the table ; though more simple, he is more 
fastidious in his food. 

1 The manners of the French, in public and in private, in 
social intercourse, are all marked with delicacy. Vice, in 
the words of Mr. Burke, loses half its evil not only among 
the great, but among the common people, by losing all its 


grossness. This remark is not only applicable to the court 
of Marie Antoinette, the unfortunate, but to the public man- 
ners of the French themselves. Every thing in the theatre 
and the street wears the exterior of good manners and civil- 
ity. A French audience is never impatient, never boisterous. 
Their applauses are short ; their hisses very rare. One night, 
at Strasburg, the play broke off very abruptly, and we were 
disappointed of a great part of the spectacle. We were 
amused, however, to see how quietly the audience took it, 
when, in England, the whole house would have been in an 
uproar, and John Bull would have raved with all the privi- 
leges of an Englishman.'' 

These remarks were made more than forty years 
ago, and when the writer had seen of French cities 
only Strasburg. Another extract from this journal 
shows, that the custom of calling upon authors and 
celebrated persons had not then become so common 
as to be regarded with approbation. 

4 Professor Schweighauser, whose Athenseus makes one 
of the Strasburg edition of the Greek and Latin Classics, 
is a native and an inhabitant of this city, and is now an old 
man. A bookseller politely offered to carry me to see him, 
upon the pretence that he would be glad to see an American 
who was acquainted with his edition of Athenseus ; but upon 
what pretence could I call upon him ? And how could I 
presume to insult him with my imperfect Latin and still 
worse French, the only languages in which I could make 
him understand that I had no right to call upon him ? 
So, then, I shall leave Strasburg without seeing Professor 
Schweighauser ! ' 

After waiting in Strasburg about twelve days, they 
received their passports, but their troubles were not 
yet at an end. 


' At the first post-house beyond Strasburg, we were ac- 
costed by four gens d'armes, who demanded our passports. 
They were in English, according to an improvident custom 
of the American Consul at Paris. The first officer, upon 
looking at them, cried out " Ma foi, je n'entends pas le 
Latin." Another, taking them out of his hand, declared they 
were, " Hollandoise." However, upon seeing the Paris vise 
and the signature of Fouche, they returned them. Just as 
we were going off, they came back with a paper, which con- 
tained a list of names for which they were commissioned 
to inquire, by stopping all travellers on that route. They 
began to question us with much severity, — to inquire our 
names, our quality, our business, our route, etc. We began 
to be much alarmed, especially upon my overhearing one 
of them say, u Ce sont tres suspects." After searching us 
and our baggage, we were permitted to proceed. They 
had found nothing like our names in the list of the sus- 
pected, and nothing suspicious in our baggage.' 

After an agreeable tour in Switzerland, the travel- 
lers reached Paris in October, and took rooms in the 
Rue Vivien ne. 

' Paris, November 12th, 1806. 

i My dear Father, — I hope the letters that I have ad- 
dressed to you from different places on the Continent have 
all reached you, because they have all contained some favor- 
able statement of my health ; and I am happy to add, that 
I have still abundant reason for believing that my European 
sejour, by the blessing of God, will terminate in the perfect 

establishment of my constitution I have found 

nothing yet in Paris which will make me leave it with 
regret. Knowing so little as I do of the language, I have 
not been able to form many French acquaintances ; and the 
American families live in a remote part of the city from 
me. Except that I have made some valuable and cheap 
purchases of books, I consider my stay here as time almost 


altogether lost. The Emperor is absent on his triumphant 
Prussian campaign, and I fear I shall have no opportunity 
of seeing him. 

' Last Sunday, I attended the Te Deum at the church of 
Notre- Dame, which was performed in consequence of the 
victory of Jena. The concourse of people was immense. 
All the public dignitaries were present in their robes of 
state. The splendor of the costumes and equipages about 
the Emperor's court far surpasses any other prince in 
Europe, and is much more magnificent than under the Bour- 
bons. But I must write nothing upon politics, since a pru- 
dent silence is the order of the day all over this colossal 
empire. I only wish I could let my friends in political life 
in America know how painful, how mortifying, how dis- 
gusting, how low, how infamous, appear the animosities and 
wicked calumnies, with which our American papers are 
filled. I am called every day to blush for the state of 
society among us, and attempt, but in vain, to say some- 
thing in our defence. There is nothing I have more at 
heart than to impress upon the minds of my countrymen 
the grievous injury which we suffer in Europe from the 
complexion of our newspapers, and the brutality of our party 
spirit, the infamy of our political disputes. Of what advan- 
tage is our boasted freedom, if it is only consistent with 
such a state of animosity as now exists in New-England ? 
I am every day called to deplore the picture which we 
present to the eyes of Europe. Every paper that comes 
from the United States brings its addition to the load of our 

4 It is impossible to be out of employment here, where 
is collected almost every thing that is rare, beautiful, or 
valuable. I have begun to take a few lessons in French, 
in order to familiarize myself to the idiom and the pro- 
nunciation, that I may not be an utter stranger in the com- 
pany of Frenchmen. 

4 1 have spent the last six days at the country-seat of a 


gentleman, where I have rode on horseback every day ; and 
my sisters would have laughed to have seen me in the field 
with five or six other gentlemen, followed by hounds, chasing 
a hare. There I enjoyed for two days the company of Gen. 
La Fayette, whose name, you know, is dear to America. It 
is impossible to conceive of a man of more amiable man- 
ners, or in whose conversation one could take more delight. 
He is extravagantly attached to every thing American, and 
full of interesting anecdotes of the revolution in our country 
and in France. My fire is out, and, as wood is fifteen 
dollars a cord in France, I dare not make any more. O, 
may He who has hitherto watched over me bring about, 
in His good providence, such a termination of my tour as 
to restore my health, and bring me to you, to my sisters, 
my friends, and parish, in the course of another six months ! ' 

To Mrs. Lyman : — 

' Paris, November 12th, 1806. 

c My dear Madam, — When I sit down to write a letter 
to Boston, the multitude of friends to whom I am indebted 
quite overwhelms me, and I hardly know to whom to direct 
my lines ; but I feel more at liberty in addressing myself 
to you than to any one, because, as I have no reason to 
expect a return to my letters, I know you will not blame 
me for want of punctuality. Francis and I have visited 
together some of the most delightful spots in the old world. 
You know he has an eye continually open to the charms 
of nature, and that his taste has been much cultivated by 
the attention he has always paid to the fine arts ; he has 
imparted to me infinite pleasure by his conversation. I 
have every reason to believe that he has arrived safely in 
Finsbury Square, where I hope to meet him before the first 
of January. 

' You, I know, will not expect me to say much of Paris, 
for the very reason because there is so much to be said. 
In visiting the apartments of the Emperor and Empress, in 


the Tuilleries, I wished twenty times that you could have 
been with me, to have admired the exquisite taste of the 
furniture, the splendor of the decorations, and the perfec- 
tion which the Parisians have attained in all the furniture 
and arts of living. As I am acquainted with very little 
exclusively French society, I draw my ideas of French 
fashions not perhaps from original sources, but from the 
families of Messrs. Bowdoin, Parker, and Hottinguer. 
Their dinners are models of ease and elegance. The 
company is seated promiscuously, the servants numerous, 
the wines light and agreeable, the time spent at meals 
always moderate, the gentlemen rising with the ladies. 

* A French family, you know, cannot live without com- 
pany. An evening spent at home with one's husband and 
children would be terribly ennuyeux ; of course, the spec- 
tacle, or a party, is always at hand to fill up the evening. 
Domestic education, I presume, is almost unknown in Paris. 
I am extremely charmed with the general appearance of 
French ladies. It is true, their faces are by no means as 
handsome as you will see among the English and Ameri- 
cans, but their persons, their air, their tout ensemble, is truly 
admirable and fascinating. The lowest wench in a French 
kitchen dresses with more taste than many English and 
(you will pardon me) American ladies. Whether it is the 
continual contemplation of the finest works of ancient 
genius that gives them this power of decoration, and of 
producing beautiful effect, or whether their forms are really 
better than ours, I know not ; but it is only necessary to 
take a tour in the streets of Paris, to be satisfied of the 
superior elegance of the women of all ranks. 

i The grand theatre here, where are played the first-rate 
plays of Racine, Corneille, and Moliere, is, in my opinion, 
the purest school of morals to be found in Paris, excepting, 
perhaps, the Protestant Church. I attend it once or twice 
a week, and return more satisfied than from any other place 
of amusement in Paris. But alas ! I feel that in this city 

288 impressions of paris. 

I am not where I ought to be, and I sigh for America, 
for New England, for my people and friends. How glad I 
am that none of my female friends were born here, although 
I wish they could enjoy the pleasure of a visit ! I know 
none who would enjoy it more than you, and S., and Mr. 

Lyman, but you will never come ; and I pray God 

I may be able, before the end of six months, to communi- 
cate to you a little of what I have collected worthy of your 


1 You will think this a strange letter, but, from such a 
city as Paris, what shall I write ? About the Tuilleries and 
the Louvre ? It would take a quire of paper. About the 
Venus de Medicis and the Apollo? What, — that they 
are very pretty statues ? Precious information ! and you 
would put me down for a coxcomb. In the midst of Paris, 
my desires turn towards Boston. This single confession is 
a sufficient answer to all affectionate inquiries, and proves 
me, as ever, your affectionate faithful servant, 

<J. S. B.' 

' Paris, December 7th, 1806. 

1 My dear Sisters, — I will begin this page with tenderly 
recollecting you and the little ones, — you, the careful guar- 
dians, they, the docile objects of your love and care. It is 
painful beyond expression to be so shut out from communi- 
cation with you. I sincerely hope you have not suffered so 
much from ignorance of your brother's welfare. I have 
written every month, if my letters have only arrived in 
season to relieve your anxiety. If I only knew what you 
would be most pleased with, I could procure you here a 
thousand little conveniences, at a much cheaper rate than 
they are to be procured in America ; but alas ! I know not 
your wishes nor your wants. I am doubtful whether letters 
written in English will be permitted to pass. In this state 
of uncertainty, I have wished a thousand times that you 
understood French, that I might address my letters to you 


in that language, which is, in fact, the only one understood 
all over the world. Would it not be worth your while, my 
dear sisters, to apply yourselves a little to it, to ascertain 
whether you made sufficient progress to encourage you to 
proceed, and, by the help of a grammar and dictionary, 
and afterwards without, to enter on some easy author, such 
as Florian and Marmontel, and afterwards upon the vast 
stores of pleasant reading with which French literature 
abounds ? The system of education here, for young ladies, 
is extremely rigid. Under the age of twenty, and even 
till marriage, they are confined very much at home. They 
are never suffered to visit, and rarely to go out without 
their mothers or instructors. The strictest attention is paid 
to the decency of their manners. Their education is rigid, 
though perhaps trivial and superficial. Not a day passes 
of which two or three hours are not devoted to the piano, to 
the drawing-master, the dancing-master, and perhaps Italian, 
English, or German. It is only after marriage that young 
women are free. They are married without their choice, 
I had almost said without their knowledge : of course, the 
last persons they are solicitous to please are their husbands. 
Each partner has separate pleasures and pursuits. A 
French lady never grows old. It is indeed astonishing to 
find how long they retain their vivacity ; and there is 
nothing to betray their age, for their complexions, thanks to 
the perfection to which they have brought the cosmetic 
art, are the sams at every period of life. I hope, my dear 
sisters, you will always remain young without the help of 
paint, and full of vivacity without being indebted for it to 
the happy climate of France, but to the combined influences 
of good sense, benevolence ever active, and piety ever 
grateful and ever resigned. When, when shall 1 have the 
happiness to receive a letter from you ? But I will not be 
uneasy. The Atlantic of three thousand miles separates 
us, it is true ; but what is that to the eye of Providence ? 

A line, a point 



' I am not sufficiently charmed with Paris to make me 
happy here. It is a place, I think, with which no man can 
be enraptured who is not willing to seek for pleasure be- 
yond the limits of strict evangelical morality. But still 
there is enough to employ every moment of a literary man's 
hours ; and if I wished to devote myself to any science 
except those connected with theology, there is no place on 
the face of the globe that presents such varied and rich 

' Forgive the emptiness of this letter. Take care of papa, 
and may God keep you all to embrace once more your dear 
brother! J. S. B.' 

' Paris, December 19, 1806. 

1 My Dear Sisters, — This day is, without exception, the 
most delightful that 1 have enjoyed since I left Boston. I 
am in ecstasies ; my hand trembles with joy and gratitude. 
I have just received a large packet of letters from America, 
the first since the beginning of October. O, my dear sis- 
ters, how exquisite is the happiness of hearing from home ! 
I forget that I am in Paris ; your letters have transported me 
to America, to Portsmouth, to our own fireside ! When 
shall I hear again ? God be thanked that these have 
reached me, and that they do not contain a single article 
distressing, or even unpleasant. 

' You will no doubt be surprised that I have remained 
so long in Paris. I am as much surprised at it as your- 
selves. I have my passport now in my pocket, and wait 
impatiently to get away. You will ere this have seen the 
decree of the Emperor, which renders all intercourse be- 
tween the Continent and England almost wholly impracti- 
cable. Still, however, I hope I have not been uselessly 
employed here. In the first place, I have every reason 
to believe that my health is every day reestablishing itself. 
I hope to return to you and my dear father, if not entirely 
cured, at least much ameliorated. But of the former I 


have many reasons to hope, even confidently. I trust I 
shall be able to be more useful, more industrious, and more 
interested in the great cause of truth and piety, than ever,— 
that I shall be a more devoted, I cannot be a more affec- 
tionate, brother. But this remains a secret in the will of 
Heaven, and why should I be anxious to explore it ? ' Even 
if Europe should be destined to receive my bones, and 
strangers to close my dying eyes, is there not another coun- 
try in which no good man will be a stranger ? Yes, there 
is. And let me beg of you, my beloved sisters, to remem- 
ber, that it is the region to which all our hopes and fears, 
our pursuits, our inquiries, and our meditations, should con- 
tinually tend, or, at least, from which we should never be 
estranged, and to which we should never even for a moment 
be indifferent. May God form you both to rational and en- 
lightened faith in his religion, and to an habitual love of 
all its duties. I hope you have received a work which I 
requested might be sent to you from Boston, written by that 

excellent woman, Mrs. Hamilton 

'My principal employment here has been collecting 
books. Works in theology may be bought for a trifle, and 
I have gone to the full extent of my resources in collecting 
a very large library. I wish you read French. I could 
provide you here a little library at a cheap rate, which 
would be an endless source of pleasure to you, when your 
cares are less than at present, and you will have culivated, 
I hope, that taste for reading, which will be to you of infi- 
nitely more value than jewels and riches inexhaustible. 

1 1 should have reaped much greater pleasure from my 
long sejour in this city, if, in the first place, there were any 
Protestant church, which I could have frequented with satis- 
faction, and, in the next place, if I understood the language 
sufficiently to take pleasure in French society. Without 
this accomplishment, Paris must be in some measure dull 
to any person who is not willing to relieve his ennui by 
rushing into scenes of guilty amusement. The Theatre 


Francais is certainly an exception, and perhaps the best 
school of morals, as well as the best means of learning a 
correct pronunciation of the language, in Paris. I have 
been there two or three evenings every week, and consider 
it time well spent. 

4 Mr. Bowdoin's family has become almost indispensable 
to me. Judge Tudor's is very agreeable. They have a 
little company every Monday evening, among whom are 
to be found most of the Americans here. I find entertain- 
ment of a still higher class in the company of Count Rum- 
ford, and of those whom I meet at his house. He has a 
weekly meeting of the members of the Institute, and his 
wife, the widow of the famous Lavoisier, is able to bear a 
part in the most scientific discussions. I must refer you to 
the letters I shall send to some of my friends in Boston, 
which contain a few of the impressions which this city has 
made upon my mind. 

4 1 have received my mother's hair with the greatest 
pleasure. As to the portrait, I am afraid 1 shall not answer 
your request ; at any rate, I hope I shall not have time to 
have it executed in Paris 

' I add only a few words, that I am pleased at any thing 
which looks like literary taste or curiosity in your letters. 
Although I am aware that both my sisters are immersed 
in cares for their father and the younger ones, yet I am 
gratified to perceive in your letters that your minds are 
continually ripening and improving. Your sex have always 
been famous for their epistolary excellence. Madame de 
Sevigne in France, and Lady Montagu in England, have 
left the finest specimens in this kind of writing. Perhaps 
Cowper, however, has redeemed the inferiority of our sex 
in this respect. But the first requisite in letter-writing is a 
most accurate orthography. Elegant effusions of sentiment 
will not compensate a defect in spelling in the eyes of a 
person who sees the original. In the next place, a gram- 
matical, and, lastly, an easy and perspicuous, construction 


of sentences, is indispensable. Let me recommend to your 
perusal Blair's large work on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. 
I shall devote the next pages to the little ones. 

' Farewell, my dear sisters. I love you more and more 
the farther I am from you, and the longer I am absent. 
Your dear brother, J. S. B.' 

To Mr. Lyman : — 

' Paris, January 2d, 1807. 

4 My dear Benefactor and Friend, — My father tells 
me, in a letter dated some time in August, which I received 
about a week ago, that you appeared somewhat surprised 
at not having received any letter from me. If I had thought 
that my neglect of writing would have appeared to you an 
indication of my having lost any portion of that love and 
respect which I have ever felt for you, I should not have 
been guilty of so much inconsiderateness, which I fear you 
have felt as a kind of ingratitude. But really, my dear 
Sir, as I had never been in the habit of corresponding with 
you, I was a little doubtful whether you would now expect 
it from me ; and if I have failed in duty, I can never fail in 
affection. I hope Mrs. Lyman has received all the letters 
I have addressed to her, and that you both have seen those 
I have addressed to Shaw and Walter. If you have not 
been made perfectly acquainted with every thing that I have 
written to America, it was because my correspondents were 
ignorant of the perfect confidence, affection, and regard I 
have always cherished towards you. Forgive me, I pray 
you, if I have not fulfilled what you expected from me, and 
let me know that you have received this letter, and have 
pardoned me. 

' I have not heard, in any of my letters from Boston, that 
Theodore has entered college this year. I hope you will 
not allow him to cherish any thing like indifference for a 
liberal education. I have the greatest hopes from him. 
Give my love to him and to George. Q, may they never 



be corrupted, — never lose those qualities which have made 
them so many friends, and so dear to me ! Tell them that 
they must not forget him, who hopes to have the happiness 
of seeing the fruit of some of those early instructions which 
it was always his pleasure, and he trusts will be his honor, 
to have given them. 

1 A few words for Mrs. L. I have had the pleasure of 
passing an evening with Helen Maria Williams. She has 
a literary coterie every Sunday evening. She is now rather 
advanced in years, and certainly homely, but a very inter- 
esting woman. Madame de Genlis lives in Paris, not very 
much respected. Her works, however, still pass through 
many editions, and when the Bourbons again are in power, 
her turn will come, as she educated some of the members 
of that family. Madame D'Arblay resides here also. I 
have some hopes of being introduced to her. She is a 
novelist who has lived her own romances, as she is said to 
have made a most imprudent marriage for love, and is in 
very low circumstances. Madame de Stael has been long 
since banished from Paris, on account of the freedom of the 
literary and political conversations she w T as in the habit of 
holding at her evening parties of men of letters, — a kind 
of club which the Emperor did not choose to tolerate. So 
much for literary ladies. 

' Do not let the present state of political affairs in Europe 
weigh too much upon your mind. I have no right to ask 
you for a few lines, but I have a right to say how grateful 
they would be. 

8 Yours, with every sentiment of affection, 

'J. S. B.' 

' Plymouth, Feb. 15th, 1807. 

4 My dear Father, — I commence a letter at this place ; 
perhaps it will be finished in London. At length I have 
escaped from France, — that land of delays, vexations, 
police, and passports, — and am safely landed on British 


ground, where I feel at ease, secure, and comfortable. It 
is now three months since I began to look out for an oppor- 
tunity of coming over, and just as I was upon the point of 
concluding to leave Paris for Holland, the imperial decree 
came out interdicting every species of communication with 
the British Isles. This decree is executed with peculiar 
rigor in Holland, so that my hopes from that quarter were 
cut off, and I was unwilling to undertake so long a journey 
as from Paris to Rotterdam with prospects so unsafe. About 
the middle of November, I heard that Mr. Charles Williams, 
of Boston, was at Cherbourg ; that he was going round to 
Treguier, a little port on the coast of Brittany, to take in a 
cargo of wheat, and that he would go immediately to some 
part of England. I wrote to him on the subject of taking 
Mr. Thacher and myself as passengers. To this he most 
obligingly consented ; and I accordingly took out passports 
at the police, to embark at Treguier for the United States. 
These passports I have carried in my pocket more than 
three months. Mr. Williams was detained six weeks at 
Cherbourg. At last we heard of his sailing, and were 
expecting every day to be informed of his arrival at 
Treguier, upon which we were immediately to set out 
from Paris. On his passage round, he was taken by a 
privateer and carried into Guernsey. Hearing nothing 
from him for a fortnight, we gave him up as lost or taken, 
and resigned ourselves to the expectation of remaining 
in France for an indefinite period. At length, however, 
about the beginning of February, we were informed of his 
arrival at Treguier, and that we must be there as soon as 

1 After spending eight days in traversing the vilest roads 
through the most barbarous country of France, filled and 
traversed about three years since with Chouans and brig- 
ands, we arrived at the little port just in season to get on 
board the vessel. In about thirty hours, we set our feet on 
the opposite shore. I shall set off for London to-morrow, 
and hope to reach it in five days. 


c In all this arrangement of my circumstances, through 
the whole of this last winter, I think I see the hand of the 
kindest Providence. Much against my will, I was detained 
in a mild climate through the severe months, by which my 
health has been restored. I have been reserved for the 
most favorable opportunity in the world for getting over at 
last in the vessel of a friend, where I could be perfectly at 
home, without inconvenience and without expense ; and, to 
crown the whole, the most favorable gales have wafted us 
to England in the shortest time. 

' The season is astonishingly mild. The whole country 
round Plymouth is covered with verdure, and, through the 
whole of the part of France which I traversed, the buds 
were swelling and the grass growing. I cannot but con- 
sider it also a great favor, that, in travelling in the diligence 
through Brittany, where the people are extremely barbarous, 
clad in goat-skins, and speaking a barbarous language, I 
should every where on the road have met with the most 
obliging and attentive Frenchmen, who did every thing to 
facilitate our journey, and whom, if I should ever meet 
them in America, I shall rejoice to embrace as friends and 
brothers. My health continues uninterrupted. Adieu.' 

There is recorded in the notice of this rapid jour- 
ney to Treguier a singular incident of the romance 
of real life, that seems stranger than the romance of 

' There travelled with us,' he remarks, ' in the diligence, 
an ugly Frenchman. Some of the company said he was 
hastening on to Rennes, to take possession of the estate of 
a brother who had lately died in the absence of his wife ; 
and it was supposed she had not heard of the death of her 
husband, and that she would lose all her little estate. As 
we were sitting around the fire in the kitchen of the inn, 
relating these circumstances, an aged and sorrowful woman 
appeared to listen attentively. Upon inquiry, we found that 


it was the widow, hastening on to her husband, with whom 
she had been reconciled, but ignorant till that moment of 
his death. She was without means of pursuing her journey 
with sufficient rapidity to reach Rennes as soon as the 
brother-in-law. The passengers of the diligence made up 
a sum, and eno-aged the landlord of the inn to send her 
immediately on her way. God grant she may reach home 
in time to prevent the fraud of the brother.' 

Another interesting circumstance is mentioned in 
the record of this journey. A company of soldiers, a 
portion of the coast guard, were travelling this same 
road through Brittany. The captain, with his wife, 
accompanied them in the diligence. The difficulty 
of speaking the language, and the barbarous state of 
the country, rendered it hard for these two young 
men of a peaceful profession to make themselves un- 
derstood. The captain's wife, however, took them 
under her especial protection, foraged for them, and 
proved in this instance the often repeated assertion 
of the quick understanding and prompt kindness of 

Another letter to his father resumes the corres- 

' London, Feb. 22d, 1807. 

1 1 have arrived in London to meet with the saddest 
reverse. I have just heard of the death of my dear friend 
Walter! O, my dear Sir, you cannot know how much I 
loved him ! I never knew till now what it was to lose so 
dear, so excellent a friend. I have been writing letters of 
consolation to some of my afflicted people, and now I want 
it myself. My dear, aged friend, Deacon Storer, too ! Ah, 
a great chasm is made in the precious circle of my attach- 
ments. God preserve you and my dear sisters ! But alas ! 
I tremble at every letter which arrives, lest it should tell 
of the loss of some friend. I hope to be able to preserve 


my health and the equanimity of my spirits by the aid of 

our blessed religion : but this shock is dreadful. I never 

felt such grief before. Your letters tell me of another 

dreadful fire in Portsmouth. I hope the loss of fortune will 

teach them liow foolish it is to love money extravagantly, 

— ah, and even to love any thing on earth extravagantly. 

But my friend Walter is no longer on earth ; he is in 

heaven ! 

i I pray you be careful of your cold. Thank my deaf 

sisters for their letters. When I feel more at ease, I shall 

write more at length. 

' Your dear son, 

'J. S. B.' 

' London, March 11th, 1807. 

' My dear Sisters, — Do not you and my dear father be 
too much distressed to hear that I have had an ill turn, 
after an interval of nearly half a year. It was slight, very 
slight, and I am satisfied that it arose from something I had 

' The time that I spent upon the Continent has passed 
like a tale that is told. It was extremely agreeable, except 
that I was always uncertain of any means of returning to 
England. I travelled through France towards the sea-coast 
during the carnival week, and you would think the whole 
nation had run mad. In the little villages, the peasants, 
from the oldest to the youngest, are collected, and every 
species of foolery and absurdity is going on. 

' You cannot know how much I have suffered by hearing 
of the death of so many friends during my absence. I 
hope, my dear sisters, you will never be called to such 
heavy trials. People will tell us that we are young enough 
to make new friends ; — a most impertinent species of con- 
solation. Can the new ever take the place of the old ? We 
may indeed form new attachments, but we cannot knit 
them to the old; — the void remains, and the heart bleeds. 
Give my sincerest regards to the Storer family. I loved 
their father dearly, and I know that he was more attached 


to me than age commonly is to youth. I have written to 
Madam S., but she is a pious woman, and does not need 
rny consolation or advice. I have also written to two other 
of my parishioners, who have been most severely afflicted 
by the loss of children ; — I mean Mrs. H. G. Otis and Judge 

' I have often thought, my dear sisters, how happy you 
and I are, in having been born of pious and sensible 
parents, descended from excellent ancestors, educated in 
rather an humble condition of life, and drawn into the 
world and its notice, instead of being pushed out prema- 
turely. The consequence of this, I hope, will be, that our 
manners, our understandings, and our hearts will be gradu- 
ally improving as long as we live ; and as we love one 
another the more the older we grow, so we may at the 
same time be solicitous to render ourselves each the more 
worthy of the other, and of that beloved parent whose affec- 
tion, solicitude, and loveliness has ever been impressed upon 
my heart, and who, I have fondly hoped, has been permitted 
to watch over her children. 

'Have you read any of Paley's works, — his Natural 
Theology, Moral Philosophy, Evidences, etc. ? I think you 
will find his Natural Theology particularly interesting. The 
world has talked too long about books for ladies ; you ought 
to read fundamentally the same books with the other sex. 
I look forward with anxious and increasing pleasure to the 
hour of returning to you, and imparting to you the added 
knowledge it has been my good fortune, rather than my 
desert, to obtain beyond you. I shall try to procure a few 
elementary books, which shall be of use to my little sisters 
and brother. 

' Since I wrote to papa, I have preached at the Old Jewry 
for Dr. Rees, and have brought upon myself a great many 
solicitations, which I resist manfully. I have just come 
from seeing an old gentleman at Hackney, who has been 
a preacher there thirty-five years, — Mr. Samuel Palmer, a 
particular friend of Orton, and editor of his life and letters. 


I believe I shall be obliged to give him a discourse. But I 
have been induced to preach not so much to assist my 
friends, I acknowledge, as to keep up a kind of familiarity 
with the pulpit, that I may not return raw and awkward. 
As far as I have been able to observe, — and I have attended 
upon almost every variety of preaching in London, — the 
discourses here are very far inferior to those we usually 
hear in New England. 

' God preserve you, my dear sisters ! Ah, I little thought, 
when I besought my dear friend Walter to be thankful for 
my preservation, I should so soon lament his departure in 
the bloom of life and hopes ! Adieu. Your dear brother, 

'J. S. B.' 

To his father : — 

' London, May 5th, 1807. 

' My dear Sir, — A year has nearly elapsed since I gave 
you my last look at Portsmouth ; — a year full of variety, 
and perhaps not entirely destitute of profit. A few weeks 
more, and my exile is at an end. As I draw near the term 
of my absence, my mind is torn by a thousand contrary 
emotions. I wish to escape from London, for I have re- 
ceived the most unbounded, and it seems to me the most 
unmerited, as it is the most unexpected, kindness from 
every person to whom I have been introduced ; and I am 
making friends here, whom I shall leave with increased 
regret if I remain longer. I wish upon my return to be 
perfectly unembarrassed, that I may enjoy the undivided 
happiness of embracing you in America. If the malady 
with which it has pleased God to try me should not entirely 
disappear, I hope that I shall be able, by his grace, so to 
discipline my mind as to prepare it for any consequences of 
such disorder; — consequences, indeed, which I anticipate 
with anguish of soul, but which I think I could bear without 
guilty complaint. If I should be obliged to relinquish, at 
some future, I hope far distant, day, the care of my people, 
this would be the severest blow of all. But even this would 
be relieved by the consideration that the greatest good is 


commonly done in youth, and by young preachers, when 
the attachment of the society is fresh, and the zeal of the 
pastor most active. Do not think, from the strain of this 
letter, (which I have unconsciously run into,) that my com- 
plaints return. No ; thank God, I have reason to believe 
they will afflict me less and less, and that my voyage and 
residence on the Continent will contribute essentially to my 
restoration ; but I wish to show you that the most dreadful 
consequences of my malady are familiar, as they ought to 
be, to my thoughts, and that no presumptuous expectations 
of fame, or of long life, ever for a moment make me 
insensible to the perpetual lesson of humility with which 
God has visited me. 

4 When I think of the numerous distressing events which 
have taken place among my acquaintance during my 
absence, I bless God that the force of them is in some 
measure diminished by distance. 

4 1 am obliged to delay setting off for Scotland at present, 
for all the horses are taken up in electioneering, and the 
whole kingdom is in a ferment. I intend if possible to be 
in Edinburgh during the sitting of the General Assembly 
of the Kirk of Scotland, which, you know, is one of the 
most famous ecclesiastical courts in the world. I do not 
at present expect to be able to visit the Highlands, but 
shall go from Edinburgh to Glasgow, thence cross over 
to Ireland, proceed to Dublin, and, upon our return, take 
South Wales, &c, &c., to Oxford, on our way back to 

4 This may be the last letter I shall write from this 
side of the water, as I shall embark immediately upon 
my return from this tour. My love to my dear sisters and 
brother. Remember me to the aged saints at York. 

4 Your dear son, 

4 J. S. B.' 




1807. On" the 10th of September, 1807, my 

Aged 23. brother returned to Boston. The extracts 
from his letters to his family during his absence have 
been presented in one connected series, not so much 
for the importance of the subjects they touch upon, 
or for their intrinsic value, but as they display his 
personal feelings and his strong attachment to domes- 
tic associations. There is in them no pride of learn- 
ing or of intellect. The simplicity and openness of 
his intercourse with his friends was perhaps the most 
marked trait of his character, and exposed him some- 
times, with those who did not know of the entire 
fidelity of his manners to his inward impressions, to 
the charge of too great frankness, or a violation of 
conventional forms. 

The enchantments of the French capital could not 
wean him from the hourly memory of those he 
had left at home. Devoted as he was to theological 
studies, and to the pursuits immediately connected 
with his profession, he felt that the time was lost 
which did not aid him in increasing the one or in 
promoting the other. So deep was his sense of the 
duty of preserving his religious feelings fresh and un- 


impaired, that he was sparing of indulgence even in 
the most innocent amusements of Paris, lest they 
should impair the delicacy of his moral perceptions ; 
yet never was there a person more free from osten- 
tatious observances, or who regarded with deeper 
aversion an ascetical and morose morality. 

At the time he visited England, there had been a 
long interval of interrupted intercourse with this 
country, and he was provided with very few letters 
of introduction ; yet his circle of acquaintance soon 
became large, and was increasing among the digni- 
taries of the Established Church, as well as with 
Dissenters. He excited interest by the freshness and 
naivete of his character. There was something about 
him that arrested the attention of strangers, and this 
attention quickly ripened into friendship. 

Friends sprang up wherever he went. In the hold 
of the Dutch hoy, the conversation in broken Latin, 
through the hours of a sleepless night, so riveted 
the attention of the worthy Swiss pastor, that he 
addressed Latin letters to him after his return ; and, 
in the half-civilized country of Brittany, filled with 
Chouans, and people scarcely removed a step from 
barbarism, he perpetually called forth the courtesy 
and kindness of men whom he was willing to regard 
as brothers. 

He had gained so much vigor that he entered with 
new and ardent hopes of increased usefulness into 
every field of duty. He seemed to feel that his 
parish had new and double claims upon him, and 
that to all their previous demands was now added 
a debt of fervent gratitude. The sermon which he 


preached, the Sabbath after his return, was closed 
with the following words : — 

' I see, my friends, that your expectations are increased, 
and I feel that your just claims upon my future exertions 
are also increased. I see that I have lost many apologies 
which I could once command ; apologies for occasional 
indolence, and excuses for a thousand professional defi- 
ciencies, with which the feebleness of our powers, or the 
frailty of our natures, is not unfrequently chargeable. It is 
now too plain, since you cannot grow more indulgent to 
me, I must become less so to myself. I see, too, that, in 
addition to the ordinary duties of a pastor, — duties which 
he cannot in any case fail to discharge, without the most 
criminal unfaithfulness to his people, his Saviour, and his 
God, — I have now a large debt of gratitude to repay. And 
do I say this is burdensome ? God forbid ! No, my friends. 
It shall incite, if it cannot strengthen, my exertions, and a 
thousand labors, at which my former weakness might have 
murmured, shall now become imperceptibly light and cheer- 
ful as Gratitude herself. If it had pleased God to grant me 
a greater confidence than I have been able to bring home of 
the confirmation of my health, our joy, I think, would have 
been full. But now, even now, I trust we shall have no 
reason to regret on my part this temporary relaxation. I 
know that, on yours, there has been no failure of regular 
religious instruction, and that your own candor has left to 
you nothing but kind anxiety for me, and to me nothing 
but obligation and gratitude. Far hence, then, eveiy 
inauspicious suggestion about futurity ! " My grace," says 
Jesus to the drooping Apostle, " my grace is sufficient 
for thee." May I not, then, like Paul, thank God and take 
courage ? ' 

In the words of another, — 

' He was welcomed by his society with unabated affection 
and regard. But no praise ever seduced him to intermit 


his diligence. His books gave him an inexhaustible source 
of interest and delight ; and as he was unavoidably exposed 
to frequent interruptions during the day, his studies were pro- 
tracted till midnight with fatal constancy. In the inquiries 
peculiar to his profession he took increasing pleasure, and 
he has more than once told me, that he was fast losing his 
taste for all other studies. In order that this all-absorbing 
interest in theology should not wholly destroy his relish for 
elegant letters, which he justly considered as a valuable 
auxiliary to his ministerial influence, he continued to lend 
his aid, as has been mentioned previously to his voyage, to 
the Monthly Anthology, and to all the publications of the 

His activity was now incessant. He gave his aid — 
not only his aid, but his most precious hours — to 
every object of public utility, to every literary and 
benevolent institution. These incessant calls made 
deep inroads upon the time that he would gladly 
have given to study, to the pursuits he loved best ; 
and he was compelled to redeem the hours from 
those which should have been given to repose or to 
exercise. At this time his studies were regularly 
protracted till after the midnight hour, and followed, 
but not till a few years later, with the feverish and 
restless night. 

The sermons which he wrote during the two years 
after his visit to Europe were perhaps superior to any 
that he ever wrote ; they showed that his spiritual 
growth had been rapid, that the roots had struck 
deeper, and that the fruits enjoyed a serener and 
fresher atmosphere. 

His sermons were usually written late at night, 

* Thacher's Memoir. 


sometimes even protracted into the small hours of 
the morning. A note from the Hon. James Savage 
confirms this statement. 

' It was his habit, as you know, to give more labor 
to the preparation of his sermons than his slender 
health would justify; at least, his diligence on Sat- 
urday night was so long protracted, that, during one 
winter, I often called in after ten o'clock in the even- 
ing, to afford a brief interruption. He would usually 
break off from his sermon, and rejoice in the opportu- 
nity ; but he was sometimes so absorbed in his work 
as to desire me to permit him to continue, without 
change of posture, and to begin my cigar alone, wait- 
ing some half hour for him to unite in the indul- 
gence. After I learned, however, from his sister, that 
to finish his discourse was the employment of the 
last minutes before the bell rang for church on Sun- 
day morning, that course was abandoned.' 

These sermons, that were committed to paper so 
late, had been meditated much during the week. 
His sister always knew when he was meditating his 
sermon, and did not interrupt him, although the 
breakfast or supper were wholly untasted. But when 
it was over and the sermon preached, the exhilaration 
of his spirits was almost childlike. The gentleman 
already quoted, Mr. Savage, says, in his note: — -My 
memory associates him with every thing gentle and 
cheerful in the intercourse between us alone, and, 
when more were present, he deferred to them, and 
was never willing to occupy so much of the time as 
all desired him to appropriate. Some of the parish- 
ioners, perhaps not more than three or four, met at 
his study Sunday evenings, after the fatigue of his 


services required relaxation, and there he seemed 
truly in his element, when contributing to the re- 
freshment of his guests at the slight supper, and still 
more after its close, and perfectly rested, he could 
take a larger share in the conversation.' 

There was indeed a circumstance which deeply 
affected him, and deducted largely from his happiness 
upon his return to Boston. This was the death of 
his friend, Arthur Maynard Walter. The reader may 
remember the strong expressions of his grief in his 
last letter to his father upon hearing the sudden and 
appalling news of his death. To this his father 
answers by the next letter : — 'I anticipated the 
shock which the news of the death of your friend 
would give you ; but from your chirography and 
expressions, I believe it was more severe than it 
ought to have been ; and was perhaps more unex- 
pected than any thing ought to be in this world of 
uncertainty and death. We should always reflect 
that our friends are mortal, and that we know not 
what a day may bring forth ; we should form our 
friendships and connections under this impression, 
and enjoy and improve them accordingly.' 

Walter seems to have been the dearest and most 
intimate of his friends. His character was such as 
to inspire a warm attachment in a large circle. He 
was some years older than my brother, and two 
years before him in college ; and was one of those 
who noticed and encouraged his younger associate, 
and perhaps was ready to protect him from the incon- 
veniences to which his small stature and youthful 
appearance might have exposed him. He was repaid 
with warm gratitude and enduring attachment. His 


death also was the first deep wound of the affections 
which my brother had ever received, — at an age, 
too, when the heart is most susceptible of the tender- 
ness of friendship. A philosopher asks, 'Can an- 
other be so blessed, and we so pure, that we can offer 
him tenderness ? ' Such seems to have been the feel- 
ing of these friends to each other ; and as neither of 
them was absorbed by ties of a more selfish nature, 
God seems to have given them each to the other. 

The last letter that Walter wrote was to his friend, 
in anticipation of his return ; and, as it presents many 
characteristics, a part of it is here inserted. 

'November, 1806. 

' My dear Friend, — By our calculations, you will have 
reached London, after your jaunt on the Continent, before 
this can arrive in England. I hope you have been spirit- 
ualized amid the scenery of Switzerland ; I know you must 
have been enchanted with the situation and fertility of 
France and Brabant. I hope you are now beginning 
seriously to think of recrossing the Atlantic, and settling 
for life among those whom you love. In my solitary 
moments, I sometimes dwell on the comparative pleasures 
of London and Paris, and on the singular movements which 
the mind experiences among various nations, severally and 
strangely distinguished by customs, manners, laws, and 
modes of faith. All these feelings and pleasures, caused 
and adorned by novelty or mystery, have, in America, 
attracted my mind at different times towards the nations 
of Europe, and Duty has exercised her strong dictates to 
prevent their powerful and effectual operation. But I 
acquire submission, if not contentment ; and when I wish I 
were in London or Paris, I consider that I ought to remain 
where I am. These bursts of romance and regret you will 
experience after your return ; but your principles of religion 


will give you perfect tranquillity. Yet, indeed, I hope to 
visit Europe again, but I shall not do it till I am perfectly 
able in every respect. I love to keep my mind quiet, and 
yet in a little state of agitation to prevent drowsiness or too 
great relaxation. I have missed you very much, and still 
feel your absence, as having taken a large sum from the 
amount of my happiness ; but I have Adam Smith's con- 
stituents of fel icily, health, a good conscience, and am in 
no man's debt ; and as there is a great deal of affectation 
in complaint, I do not mean to be guilty of such folly ; for 
I can truly say I am quite happy. I have every reason to 
be contented. I hope, also, I am not ungrateful to the Giver 

of every good and every perfect gift 

4 The Anthology Club is large enough. I hate large 
associations, — there is no mingling of mind in great com- 
panies. 1 beg that you will return pretty soon, and take 
your place among us. I don't know whether I told you of 
my having found a fine cigar in your room, which I smoked 
to your health and happiness ; but I want to smoke another 
with you in your study. I love the tales of old times. 

1 Yours, 

' A. M. Walter.' 

When his friend received this letter, the warm 
heart of the writer had ceased to beat. The follow- 
ing letter will show with what grief the event was 
regarded by the bereaved wanderer. 

' London, January 22d, 1807. 

'0, my dear Friend!* — My heart is full of anguish! 
Mr. Thacher has just handed me his brother's letter, which 
informs us of Walter's death. Walter dead ! I cannot 
believe it ! I cannot believe it ! The transition of my 
mind from the highest delight to the greatest distress is 
too violent to be realized at present. I had just arrived 

* To William S. Shaw, Esq. 


in London, delighted with having escaped at last from 
France, and burning with impatience to open my letters 
from America ; and, in this state of excitement, I am told 
Walter is dead ! O, dear, dear Walter ! Have I lost you 
for ever ? Alas ! I am ashamed of myself, of the weakness 
of my faith ! When I left you all to come to Europe, the 
parting was indeed painful, but continually relieved by the 
belief that I should see you all again, after some time of 
absence. I ought to feel that it is the same thing now with 
respect to Walter, — that I shall see him again, the absence 
only a little lengthened. The voyage of my own life will 
not be long, and we shall meet again ! Last May, I took 
leave of him for a year only. I could not anticipate that 
our separation would be so much prolonged ; but now I feel 
that I ought to have been prepared for it. Dear Walter ! 
I suspect the last letter he ever wrote was addressed to me. 
Alas ! I cannot read it without tears. I have been writing 
to him by every opportunity. Ah, they are letters which 
he w T ill never read ! My dear Shaw, how I wish I were 
with you, to give vent to my sorrow ! I cannot do it on 
paper. It is a cold, idle, slow method ; and instead of 
relieving, it oppresses me. I look to the great promises and 
expectations which the Gospel holds out ; — they tell me I 
shall meet him again in a world more worthy of his noble, 
pure, pious heart than this, if I should ever be worthy to 
reach that world myself. But the great duty now is to resign 
ourselves to this heavy loss, till we meet him again. Even 
Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, though he knew that his 
power could restore him again to life. " Behold, how he 
loved him ! " said the Jews. We surely may w T eep. Alas ! 

we may go to him, but he cannot return to us ! 

' My friend, I can write no more at present. I shall 
endeavor to busy myself about your commissions,* and 
dissipate a little the heavy cloud which hangs over my mind. 

* Purchasing books for the Athenaeum. 


O, my friend, how much is subtracted from our hopes of 
future enjoyment ! The recollection of Walter, whenever 
it occurs in writing, or in conversation about America, or 
in my solitary reveries about future pleasures and past 
friendships, really oppresses me. 

" Quis desiderio sit pudor aut modus 
Tarn cari capitis? " ' 

In the sermon which he wrote upon Christian 
friendship, from the example of Jesus and John, 
printed in the second volume of his works, Walter 
seems to have been in his mind throughout. An ex- 
tract from this sermon follows : — 

c It is said that friendship is nowhere recommended to 
us in the New Testament. True, it is not*; and here, I 
think, is a singular proof of the thorough knowledge which 
our Saviour possessed of the human heart, and especially 
of the virtuous affections. For is it not easy to see that it 
would have been absurd to enjoin particular friendships 
upon any man, as a necessary part of his Christian or 
moral character ? That which is peculiar to this attach- 
ment, as it is distinguished from general good-will, is not 
a thing which depends on a man's voluntary exertions. No 
man can go out into the world and say, " I will have a 
friend.' 1 This, like other connections in life, depends upon 
circumstances beyond our control. It depends, not merely 
upon a man's generous benevolence of character, but upon 
a fortunate consent of affections, and harmony of interests, 
which a man may live long in the world and not be so 
happy as to meet. It requires such a concert of tastes 
and passions, such a length and frequency of intercourse, 
such a candor and unreservedness of mind, as we may not 
easily find in thousands whom we yet greatly esteem, and 
in many more with whom we are disposed to live on the 
common terms of peace and good neighborhood. To have 


enjoined, then, a social attachment like this, as a subject of 
duty, or as an essential obligation on every man, whatever 
may be his circumstances, is an absurdity of which Jesus 
and his disciples could not have been guilty ; and yet this 
omission has been charged upon the friend of John and 
Lazarus, as a defect in his religion. Many, I doubt not, 
are the Christians who have passed through this world of 
frequent changes and various characters, and yet have 
never chanced to meet a real friend. Many more are 
there who have wept over the grave of one long known 
and loved ; but alas ! as they have not the power to awake 
him from his slumbers, so too they have not been so for- 
tunate as ever afterwards to replace him. 

' If, my friends, we would practise this virtue (if it must 
be so named) In all its purity, and enjoy our fondest attach- 
ments in perfection, we must call in to our aid the religion 
of Christ. Tell us not of the heroic friendships of ancient 
story, when it was thought generous to sacrifice a whole 
nation for an injury to a friend, and when the duties of this 
attachment were exalted above all other obligations, and 
allowed to break every other tie, and benevolence itself 
was lost in the despotism of private love. Tell us not of 
those modern connections, which demand of us in honor 
to sacrifice one man's life to vindicate another's from false 
imputations ; or of the numerous pitiful unions of wicked 
men for purposes of interest or indulgence, of conviviality 
or temporary convenience. These have as little to do 
with affection as with religion. True Christian regard is 
as different from all this as lust from pure love, or bodily 
strength from real courage. The only perfect union of 
minds is that which is animated, corrected, and matured 
by the evangelical spirit of Christianity. Why ? Because 
their faith and hopes are not only one through their present 
destiny, but because man has interests and hopes in eternity 
dearer and greater than any temporal well-being ; and that 
union of minds into which eternity enters not, and makes 



no part of their common hopes, must be essentially defective ; 
because this idea, rendering the affection which it influences 
more sublime and more animating, must make it superior to 
any temporary union of views and purposes, how many years 
soever may have cemented it. You anticipate the company 
of your friend to-morrow ; the Christian not to-morrow only, 
but for ever. 

1 Farther. The essential temper of Christianity is self- 
distrust ; and it is the very charm of friendship to love to 
repose on another's knowledge and affection. The greatest 
foe of grace is pride ; pride also cannot coexist with gene- 
rous, undisguised, unqualified affection It is also 

the tendency of our religion to exhaust those sources of 
jealousy and distrust which so often embitter our tenderest 
and dearest connections. A Christian, knowing his own 
infirmities, will not expect too much, even from him he 
loves best. He has none of that pride that takes offence at 
fancied neglects ; and he sees the folly and the sin of 
requiring from another such an illiberal attachment to 
himself as shall confine all his friend's sacrifices to himself 
and exclude the rest of the world from his attention. It 
therefore appears to me, that, to make friendship perfect, 
Christianity was necessaiy ; because this alone teaches us 
the sinfulness of wishing for such a monopoly of affection 
as is demanded by some narrow minds, and is so contrary 
to the genius of the Gospel 

4 In fine, where the affection between two minds is not 
influenced by a sense of a present and all-gracious Father 
in heaven ; where they have no communion of mind upon 
the most interesting of human contemplations, God, Jesus, 
and the life to come ; where the tomb, when it has closed 
upon one of them, is thought to have separated them for 
ever ; where the all-sanctifying grace of the Gospel does 
not mould their desires, correct and unite their dispositions 
in humility and Christian love, — there may be fondness, 
there may be momentary satisfaction, there may be par- 



tiality, but there is no friendship, such as existed between 
Jesus and John; — such, in fact, as that for which Jesus 
prayed, when he said, " Holy Father, keep, through thine 
own name, those whom thou hast given me, that they may 
be one as we are." 

1 My Christian friends, if you have found one who leans 
on your breast, and you are not afraid that he should listen 
to the secrets lhat disturb it; if wisdom and virtue have 
directed you to him; if ardent love of truth, generous ac- 
commodation to each other, fear of God, attachment to the 
Gospel of Jesus, and hope of everlasting life, have bound 
you together, — O, cherish such a union of minds! The 
grace of Jesus Christ will temper every desire of your 
hearts, and mellow your affections by the gentle influence 
of his Gospel ; your interests will more closely intertwine 
as you draw nearer to the grave, and become more detached 
from the surrounding distractions of the world ; and the 
tomb, when it closes upon you, shall not separate you ; for, 
as God is true, " them that sleep with Jesus will God bring 
with him." Jesus, who once raised a friend from the tomb, 
will not let it close for ever on those who love him, and 
who love like him.' 

Three years after, when my brother pronounced 
the oration before the Society of the Phi Beta Kappa, 
Walter was fresh in his memory. There are some, 
perhaps, who can remember the fervent and chastened 
emotion with which he pronounced these words : — 

' Do you want examples of learned Christians ? I could 
not recount them in an age. You need not be told that 

" Learning has borne such fruits, in other days, 
On all her branches ; piety has found 
Friends in the friends of science ; and true prayer 
Has flowed from lips wet with Castalian dews.' 

5 # 

* Cowper's Task. 


'Yes, it has! We have known and loved such men, 
and, thank God ! have been loved by thetn. There is now 
present to my mind the image of a scholar, whom some 
of you knew (for he was one of us) ; and those who knew 
him well will say with me, he was as pure a spirit as 
ever tasted the dews of Castalia. How would Walter have 
delighted in this anniversary ! He would have heard me ! 
— me, who am now left to speak of him only, and ask for 
him the tribute, the passing tribute of your grateful recol- 
lection ! He would have heard me ! It may be that he 
hears me now, and is pleased with this tribute. 

" Manibus date lilia plenis ; 
Purpureos spargam flores animamque amici 
His saltern accumulem donis, et fungar inani 

JVJunere." ' # 

There are other tributes to the memory of Walter 
scattered throughout his papers. Indeed, if the time 
were pointed out when he appeared most happy, most 
worthy of admiration, most radiant with all the riches 
of his nature, it was in the intimate intercourse with 
friends. Then was his fine countenance inspired 
with thoughts and emotions that needed no restraint; 
he poured out the riches of his imagination, and the 
hoarded treasures of thought, softened by the tender- 
ness and perfect reliance of friendship. He had in an 
eminent degree the childlike character of genius ; 
his naivete was understood only by those who re- 
garded him with the partiality of friendship. His 

* ^n., Lib. VI. 

' Bring fragrant flowers, the whitest lilies bring, 
With all the purple beauties of the spring ; 
On the dear youth, to please his shade below, 
This unavailing gift, at least, I may bestow ! ' 

Dry den and Pitt 


countenance and manner reflected with the utmost 
fidelity his transient and passing feelings. He would 
be suddenly stopped in the midst of an animated 
conversation by a formal or affected truism; he would 
shrink into himself and silence, at the envious or 
malignant remarks of a selfish person ; he felt de- 
pressed in the presence of bigotry or hypocrisy. 
How necessary was it for such a nature to be pro- 
His lively sympathy, when another or himself had 
tected by the disinterested attachment of friendship ! 
given pleasure by an intellectual effort, was often 
mistaken for vanity by those who did not understand 
the peculiar simplicity of his character. He would 
listen with as much pleasure to the commendation of 
his friends after any arduous public exhibition, or after 
an effort where much had been expected of him, as 
though it were the first he had ever made. Reflect- 
ing, as he must always have done, upon the certain, 
and almost at any time possible, influence of his well- 
known malady, he trembled lest his friends should 
discern a confirmation of his own ever-whispering 
warnings in any of his public exhibitions, and there- 
fore listened with anxious delight to their honest 
praises. He threw himself, as it were, upon the sin- 
cerity and tenderness of friendship, to guard his 
reputation, and to inform him of the first shadow that 
could dim its lustre. Never was confidence in friends 
met with a more generous return. I could scarcely 
enumerate those who loved him while living, and 
honored his memory with their tears and their eu- 
logy. Among the foremost were Thacher, Kirkland, 
Savage, Norton, Lowell, Eliot ; and, of those who 
were younger, to whom he looked forward himself 


as friends of his maturer life, — Ticknor, Everett, 
Palfrey, — it might almost have been said of them, 
as of a bereaved father at the loss of his son, that they 
would not exchange their dead friend for others' 
living ones. 

Perhaps the friend who shared the most of his con- 
fidence, after his return from Europe, was the Rev. 
S. C. Thacher. The strength of their attachment 
survived that which is said to be the severest test of 
either love or friendship, — travelling and voyaging 
together. After their return, no day passed that they 
did not meet in the study of Buckminster, and they 
usually dined together. Their literary efforts were 
submitted each to the supervision of the other ; and 
they maintained the most jealous watch over each 
other's literary reputation. Mr. Thacher fulfilled, 
with exquisite tenderness, taste, and beauty, the duty 
of surviving friendship, in the memoir prefixed to 
the first volume of ' Buckminster's Sermons.' Their 
names have since lived united in hearts of sensibility, 
twined together by the fragrant wreath with which a 
kindred genius has bound them.* 

The two friends stood together in the same rela- 
tion to another, whose memory should not be allowed 
to die out of the record of those whose hearts were 
comforted by his kindness, or whose characters were 
improved by his counsels. Dr. Kirkland was fifteen 
years older than Buckminster, and eleven years his 
senior in college ; Thacher was a year younger, 
and four years after him in the records of Alma 

* Rev. F. W*. P. Greenwood, in his Memoir of Rev. Samuel Cooper 



Mater : both these young men appeared as younger 
brothers to Dr. Kirkland. During all the time which 
has elapsed since the death of the latter, friendship 
and admiration have not attempted to perpetuate his 
memory by a selection from his admirably wise dis- 
courses. Where shall the next generation search for 
memorials of Kirkland, in order to embalm his memo- 
ry before it shall have faded away ? * 

There are some still living who remember the 
noble and venerable qualities of Dr. Kirkland, — who 
remember how he united, in a beautiful approxima- 
tion, i the kindest affections with the very spirit of 
wisdom, the keenest discernment with the gentlest 
judgment of human infirmities.' He was truly a wise 
man, for wisdom is that exercise of the reason into 
which the heart enters; and if any infirmities were 
discerned in the exercise of his judgment, they arose 
from the too large proportion of heart which entered 
in, and perhaps disturbed the equilibrium of the clear- 
est intellect. His insight into character was most 
penetrating ; he could command the nicest dissecting 
powers, capable of dividing the germs of good which 
lie in every character from the mass of evil with 
which education and circumstance has involved them. 
His sarcasm was pungent, but his kindness of heart 
forbade him often to use its diamond point. He saw 
through the motives of men's actions, even before 
they were themselves aware from what point they 
sprang ; and how often was a young person first 
made acquainted with an unconscious fault or foible, 

* Except in the Discourses of the Rev. Drs. Parkman, Palfrey, 
and Young. 


by the delicacy of the keen remark that apologized 
for it, or the still keener irony which defended it ! 

He rarely entered into disputation or argument, but 
he saw the whole field of controversy ; and such was 
his gentleness and urbanity, that he seemed to yield 
to others at the very moment he was leading them to 
clearer views ; and the light that he threw upon a 
subject, bringing his opponent out of his difficulties, 
seemed to the disputant to have arisen in his own 
mind, and he to remain master of the victory which 
Dr. Kirkland had taught him how to win. If hypoc- 
risy and cant drew from him a keen sarcasm, cruelty 
and ingratitude excited indignation which sometimes 
found expression in the strongest terms of reproba- 
tion and contempt. His aphorisms in conversation 
partook of the mingled irony of Rochefoucault and 
the tender humor of Sterne. Could he have conde- 
scended to admit the admiration of a Bos well, what 
a rich store of anecdote and shrewd remark might 
have been preserved, as it dropped from his lips in 
the quiet bonliommie of familiar conversation ! 

His character should be drawn by an able and dis- 
criminating pen. May we not hope, that, beside the 
cold and perishable marble, which is now the only 
memorial of him, we may have a living portrait, 
drawn by the heart-inspired hand of genius, which 
shall consecrate his memory in the hearts of those 
who loved him, and make him known to other 




1808. The year 1808 was one of great activity 

Aged 24. in the life of the son, and of great interest in 
that of the father. The former begins it by record- 
ing in his journal his desire to find and read those 
books that induce to Christian union. Nearly at this 
period began the controversy in the churches which 
resulted in their disunion. He was one of those who 
as ardently desired union as Lord Falkland desired 
peace in the great civil war ; and yet, had he lived, 
he must inevitably have taken his part in the protest 
which one portion of the Church were compelled to 
make against what they considered existing errors. 
Their protest was not made till these errors were 
beginning to be established, as they thought, by be- 
ing made part of creeds to be subscribed, contrary to 
the spirit of freedom in the New England churches. 
Mr. Buckminster was now twenty-four years old, 
the age when men are just beginning a course of 
action which is to result in the benefit and improve- 
ment of their fellow-men. It is with most persons 
the rlowering time of life, and according as the bloom 
is rich and abundant will be the beauty and excel- 
lence of the fruit in after years. Dr. Channing, who 


was certainly one of the most remarkable men among 
his contemporaries, was settled at twenty-three, and 
had just begun his beneficent work. With my broth- 
er, also, it was but the beginning of life, and, had 
he lived to old age, he would probably have looked 
back to the produce of these years as but of imma- 
ture and unripe fruit, — the feeble commencement 
of a future and abundant harvest. He mentions in 
his journal being much moved by Mr. Channing's 
sermon upon Ministerial Zeal, at the ordination of 
Mr. John Codman, and records a prayer that it may 
have its proper effect upon his heart. 

Both these young men entered upon active life at 
a period when great changes were taking place in the 
community of which they were members. For half 
a century, the active and the educated intellect of the 
country had been absorbed by subjects connected 
with the war of Independence, and the excitement of 
mind produced by the principles of the French Revo- 
lution. Things had now settled, after the tumult 
and terror of the war. Men felt the security of pro- 
perty ; prosperity, and peace, and leisure made them 
begin to look about them for higher sources of en- 
joyment than merely ostentatious pleasures, or the 
luxuries of social life. The greater part, perhaps, 
were absorbed in what is said to be an exciting 
occupation, the accumulation of property, adding dol- 
lar to dollar, and acre to acre ; but there were others, 
who wished for purer pleasures and more elevating 
enjoyments. To both these young men belongs the 
honor of being leaders in the social movement which 
began about this period of time. 

The first change, perhaps, was a new impulse 


given to literature by a new zeal in the acquisition of 
libraries, and the regular and systematic importation 
from abroad of periodical literature, monthly publica- 
tions and reviews, and the establishment of reading- 
rooms where they could readily be found, — the 
importation of classical authors, as well as of the 
current publications of the day. Now also began the 
establishment of reviews of our own, magazines of a 
superior and solid character, and the beginning of 
an expression of an opinion of our own upon literary 
and critical matters, instead of an entire reliance upon 
authority. At this time, also, there commenced an 
interest in what are called critical studies, the philo- 
sophical and analytical study of the classics and the 
Scriptures. For all these objects my brother felt 
the warmest attachment, and the last was his favorite 
and most especial pursuit. 

The fortunate circumstance of a pecuniary bequest 
from his maternal grandfather, Dr. Stevens, — who, 
from a salary of a hundred pounds, laid up some 
thousands of dollars, which were husbanded, during 
his grandson's minority, by the most faithful of 
guardians, Judge Sewall, of York, — enabled him, as 
soon as it came into his hands, to indulge an innocent 
passion, by the importation of English books. While 
he was at Exeter, he had, with great trouble, con- 
trived to obtain the Monthly Review, usually re- 
ceiving six or twelve numbers at one time. His 
chief occupation in Paris was collecting with great 
care and diligence a library of choice books, con- 
nected with his favorite studies ; in the purchase of 
which, he spent nearly all his little fortune. He 
thus remarks upon this expenditure in a letter to his 


father : — ' If I should be cut off from the use of these 
luxuries of the mind, they will be a treasure to those 
who succeed me, like the hoards of a miser scattered 
after his death.' 

This library of three thousand volumes was 
unique * in its character, such as few of his pro- 
fession could then have profitably employed, though 
they could appreciate its value; and it was always 
as accessible for the use of his brethren in the pro- 
fession as for his own. It was certainly character- 
istic of his devotion to his favorite studies, that, 
while his library at that time was more valuable than 
that of any private individual in Boston, the furniture 
of his parsonage, and his establishment of domestic 
luxuries, were frugal almost to the degree of incon- 

The second object of public interest, in which he 
took a most active part, was the publication of 
periodical literature. He was one of the principal 
promoters of the Literary Miscellany, a monthly 
magazine, conducted by gentlemen who were his 
immediate friends. The first number was published 
in July, 1803, and in this was printed the first pro- 
duction of his pen which was given to the press, a 
review of ' Millar's Retrospect of the Eighteenth 
century.' This Miscellany enjoyed but the short life 
of one year, and was succeeded by the Monthly 
Anthology, of which a full account has been given 
in other pages. Ten volumes of the Anthology were 
published, in all of which there were productions of 
more or less value from his pen. In 1812, this was 

* See Appendix. 

324 gkiesbach's greek testament. 

worthily succeeded by the General Repository and 
Review, edited by Mr. Norton. This was intended 
as the vehicle of learned discussions and responsible 
reviews. The writer cannot, of course, speak of the 
merit of the long article from her brother's pen, in 
the second number, — the translation of a learned 
paper in Schleusner's Lexicon, occupying twenty- 
one sheets of letter-paper in his handwriting. It 
shows that he must have nearly left the sweet and 
varied walks of general literature for the thorny paths 
of learned criticism. 

In this year, 1808, he engaged, in conjunction with 
his friend, Mr. William Wells, and under the patron- 
age of the University of Cambridge, in the publica- 
tion of Griesbaclrs Greek Testament, containing a 
selection of the most important various readings. 
This work passed under his most careful revision, in 
the course of which several errors in the original were 
discovered and corrected. 

Mr. William Wells, the publisher of Griesbach, 
writes : — 

' The last proofs of the Cambridge edition of the Greek 
Testament were revised by him, and this contributed greatly 
to its extreme correctness. Not the smallest mark or ac- 
cent escaped his penetrating eye, and his accuracy often 
excited much surprise in the printing office. He was ac- 
tive in the publication and distribution of Unitarian books 
and tracts, and contributed largely to these objects from his 
own resources, as well as from funds supplied by his 

4 1 believe that the American edition of Griesbach may 
be safely said not to yield the palm of accuracy to any 
which has been published in Europe.' 

griesbach's greek testament. 325 


A letter to him from a clergyman in England 
says : — 

1 1 envy the American press the honor of being the first 
to reprint that valuable edition ; and the more, as a pocket 
edition of the Greek Testament is now printing in England, 
from Griesbach's second edition, which will therefore want 
the corrections of the author, which are inserted in your 
German edition. Yours does infinite credit to the Ameri- 
can press.' 

' Proposals were also issued for a supplementary volume 
to Griesbach, to contain an English translation of the Pro- 
legomena to his large critical edition, the authorities for his 
variations from the received text, and some dissertations, 
original and selected, on subjects connected with the criti- 
cism of the Bible. Some progress was made in preparing 
this work by Mr. Buckminster and one of his friends, but, 
as he did not give his name to the proposals, they did not 
receive sufficient encouragement to induce him to perse- 
vere. In 1810, he formed the plan of publishing all the best 
modern versions of the prophetical books of the Old Testa- 
ment. He proposed to use the version of Bishop Lowth for 
Isaiah, with the various renderings of Dodson and Stock in 
the margin where they differ from Lowth. The major 
prophets were to be completed by Blayney's version of 
Jeremiah and Lamentations, Newcome's version of Ezekiel, 
and Wintle's of Daniel, with Blayney's of the Seventy Weeks. 
Newcome's translation of the minor prophets was to have 
followed, with variations from Horseley's Hosea, Benjoin's 
Jonah, and Blayney's Zechariah. After this, he hoped to 
have been able to give an additional volume, containing the 
most important notes and preliminary dissertations to the 
several books. The whole design, however, I am almost 
ashamed to say, failed, for want of a sufficient taste for 
these studies among our countrymen.' * 

* Thacher's Memoir. 
28 * 


Of another and more important change, affecting 
the relation of the churches to each other and to 
society, the introduction of views of Christian doctrine 
differing from those of the first Puritan churches, the 
writer conceives that this is not the place to speak, 
except so far as the subjects of these memoirs were 
concerned in them. 

Every one the least acquainted with the ecclesias- 
tical history of the period, must be aware that there had 
been, from the time of the establishment of Brattle 
Street Church in Boston, a gradual relaxation from the 
strict Calvinism of our fathers. Certainly that church, 
when it agreed to omit all relation of religious ex- 
periences, as unessential to admission, made as large 
an advance towards liberality as has been, at any 
one step, effected since. It is known to those who 
are moderately well informed on this subject, that, 
about the middle of the last century, a change became 
apparent in the views of many of the clergy of New 
England, touching those doctrines which had been 
deemed essential, and were usually considered ortho- 
dox. This change was gradual, and almost imper- 
ceptible. It did not amount at once to the adoption 
of distinct anti-trinitarian conceptions, but the tenets 
of strict Calvinism lost their hold upon the minds 
of ministers and people, and the orthodox creed was 
embraced with great reservations. Some of the 
prominent ministers of the churches were called ' Ar- 
minians,' i moderate Calvinists,' 'Arians.' Had not 
political events, and the exigencies of the struggle 
for independence, absorbed the whole of the educated 
mind of the country, it seems as though that division 
in the churches must have inevitably taken place 
then, which %as postponed half a century. 


The change in theological opinion has been as 
gradual as most other changes, and the result of free 
inquiry has been a new growth, the healthful devel- 
opment from the deep roots of the tree of life. Cal- 
vinism lost its hold upon the minds of the laity quite 
as soon as it failed to satisfy their ministers. ' It had 
died down to the roots,' as a late writer observes, 
'before the axe had touched it.' The evidences of 
its powerless and inoperative state were lamented by 
its friends before more simple and evangelical views 
of the religion of Christ brought back the revolted 
mind of the churches to the doctrines of the Bible, 
rather than to those of Calvin. 

The following letter, written by Dr. Buckminster 
fifty years ago, in answer to one from Dr. Morse, 
lamenting the falling off of the ministers from ortho- 
dox preaching, confesses, also, that the doctrines of 
Calvin affright the people and empty the churches. 
It discloses a state of things which is not generally 
acknowledged by either party, — that the people 
took the lead in liberal views, and would not listen 
to Calvinistic preaching. 


' 1 lament the state of things to which it appears to me 
a departure from true evangelical principles, and a silence 
respecting the peculiarly humbling, awakening, and affect- 
ing doctrines of the Gospel in the public teachers of it, have 

contributed their full share Is it not too true that 

ministers leave the humiliating state of man as a fallen and 
apostate creature, his helplessness and danger, the glorious 
character of Christ as a Divine person, the special influences 
of the Spirit, the necessity of regeneration, and the awful 
prospects of the impenitent and unbelieving, out of their 
public discourses, and fill them with philosophical disquisi- 


tions, moral essays, and popular harangues ? I do n't know 
but many may do this from an honest, but, in my view, 
very erroneous apprehension, that it will serve to remove 
the objections of some amiable moral characters, and con- 
ciliate them to the Gospel. But what advantage is it to 
conciliate them to a Gospel that is not the Gospel of Christ, 
and fails of the energies necessary to make them holy and 
happy ? It appears to me the charges and descriptions, 
contained in that most excellent treatise of Mr. Wilberforce, 
are as applicable to us as to the country for which he wrote. 
Defects in principle are more dangerous and destructive 
than in practice. They are like a disease at the heart. A 
diseased limb may be amputated ; a stream polluted by 
accidental filth in its channel may be easily cleansed ; but 
where the fountain is impure, all labor upon the stream will 
be wholly thrown away. The fountain must be cleansed, 
the heart must be healed. If ministers are really concerned 
and distressed, and would seek a remedy, they must return 
in their preaching to the terrors of the law and the grace of 
the Gospel ; they must preach the plain doctrines of reve- 
lation, and with boldness and candor address to the con- 
sciences of men the awful and the alluring motives therein 
contained ; and represent sin, as it is most clearly repre- 
sented in the Gospel, as such an evil that nothing short of 
the interterposition of a Divine person could atone its guilt 
or remove its malignant effects. Many persons apprehend 
that such preaching would affright people from the Gospel, 
and empty our churches and religious assemblies at once. 
Duty is ours, events are God's. We must preach the 
preaching that God bids us, and appeal to the law and to 
the testimony. The truth sanctifies ; error may please, but 
it cannot profit. 

' But is there nothing to be done by us ? we may ask. 
Those who fear God must speak often to one another upon 
the things of God, and pray most earnestly for themselves 
and brethren ; and, as the high priest always offered for 


his own sins before he did for the sins of the people, would 
it not be commendable for us ministers to have days of 
private social fasting, and let them be spent as days of 
real humiliation and not of conviviality ? Might not asso- 
ciation meetings be so improved ? After this, we might 
with greater confidence and hope of success have more 
public seasons of prayer, following up our devotions with 
the spirit of divine things in all our commerce with the 

* Dear Sir, I should need to make an apology for the 
freedom with which I have written, did it not afford the 
strongest proof of the entire confidence I have in you, as 
a faithful, sincere, and experienced servant of Jesus Christ. 
May God be with you and your brethren, and direct you 
in the subject of your inquiries, the result of which I shall 
be obliged to you to communicate to your friend and 


1 April 24th, 1799.' 

The above letter was written fifty years ago. Does 
it not imply that ministers had ceased to preach the 
humiliating doctrines, that is, the doctrines of Cal- 
vinism, and that, in the opinion of one who retained 
this faith, it was because they would ' affright people, 
and empty at once the churches and religious assem- 
blies ' ? It is more honorable to all the ministers of 
Boston and the vicinity, and probably more true, 
that they had ceased to believe in Calvinism, and 
therefore ceased to preach it. It would be invidious, 
and, with all the light thrown upon the last fifty 
years, it would be unjust, to say that any continued 
to believe in Calvinism, and concealed their faith 
because it would empty their churches. But, as it 
has been so often asked why those whose faith in 



orthodoxy was shaken did not come forward at once 
and make confession, may we not with equal perti- 
nence ask, why did not Calvinists, who continued 
such, assert their sentiments previous to the conclu- 
sion of the last century, and in the beginning of 
this ? One of their own number says they did not, 
and we are justified in saying, either that they con- 
cealed their sentiments for fear of emptying their 
churches, or that Calvinism had lost its hold upon 
the societies, and that it was only as the faith of a 
party that its spirit was resucitated. 

Of the younger subject of this memoir, it is well 
known that his earliest years were spent under the 
influences of Calvinism ; and, however its stern fea- 
tures may have been softened by the mingling with 
them of the aspect of paternal love, that form of re- 
ligion was associated with all his tender youthful 
feelings of devotion. Whoever has passed the early 
part of life in New England can hardly fail to look 
back upon some one of his ancestors, a descendant 
of those -'strong-hearted and God-fearing' Puri- 
tans, who has been to him the venerable type of 
Calvinistic religion, — some one who looked with sad 
or stern displeasure upon all innovation on the Gene- 
van formulas, and upon all relaxation of the Puritan 
discipline of life. Conscientious and faithful to his 
first convictions, the morning and evening came to 
him burdened with prayers for the sins and follies 
which he saw every where around him. His belief 
in the total depravity of his fellow-men, and of his 
own children, was strangely at variance with the ten- 
derness of his heart, and the indulgence of his hope- 
fulness. He affirmed that the grace of God alone 


could change the disposition to evil, and impart a 
saving faith ; and yet the necessity of religious 
culture was perpetually reiterated, and precept upon 
precept was followed by line upon line. 

It was under such influences that religion descended 
like the dew upon my brother's childhood, and opened 
in his heart the blossoms of a spiritual faith, and a 
tender, childlike piety. Calvinism could never have 
made him gloomy, nor Puritanism bigoted and ascetic. 
But as soon as he began, in preparation for his profes- 
sion, a careful, impartial, and critical study of the 
Scriptures, without seeking in them for the support 
of previously received opinions, he found that he 
could not discover in them that theology which had 
been the support and solace of so many hearts among 
his ancestors. While studying at Exeter, he seems 
to have rejected the doctrine of total and innate de- 
pravity, and other tenets connected with it ; and 
although the doctrine of the Trinity was approached 
with caution and reluctance, yet, at the age of nine- 
teen he writes thus to his father : — 'I have em- 
ployed almost every day since my return from Ports- 
mouth, in reading the most orthodox works upon the 
Trinity, — Edwards, Jamieson, Ridgely, etc. ; and, 
from what I know of the state of my own mind, I 
despair of ever giving my assent to the proposition 
that Jesus Christ is God, equal to the Father. I have 
been thus explicit, that, whatever may be my future 
lot, I may still retain the consciousness of having 
preferred the relinquishment of every prospect of 
fame or preferment to the slightest evasion or hypoc- 
ricy upon subjects deemed by you so important.' 

His continued study upon this and kindred subjects 


resulted certainly in a wide departure from strict Cal- 
vinism. He rejected all connection with the tenets of 
Socinus. Socinianism, which admits of no spiritual 
aid, in the perfect obedience to law which it de- 
mands, could have no attraction for a mind so early 
imbued with a devout longing for an intimate com- 
munion with God. He became afterwards thoroughly 
acquainted with the writings of English Unitarians ; 
and he felt unbounded respect for those honest men, 
and noble confessors, who, for conscience' sake, gave 
up all worldly advancement. He admired their phi- 
lanthropy, and sympathized with their efforts to har- 
monize Scripture, reason, and common sense ; yet he 
did not belong to them. It does not appear that he 
wholly sympathized with any one of the divisions by 
which Christians were classed at the beginning of 
this century. He endeavored to vindicate those 
views, which satisfied his own earnest efforts after 
truth, and he was ready to cooperate with all who 
strove to advance a spiritual piety, and an elevated 
standard of morals, and a sincere adoption of ' the 
new commandment ' of love. Extracts which will be 
given from some few of his sermons, upon points of 
doctrine, will show in what views his studies had 
resulted at the early period of his death. The labor 
which he devoted to anxious inquiries was uncheered 
by sympathy from his father ; and he had the addi- 
tional sorrow of finding that the results of his study 
placed him in painful antagonism to that revered 
friend of his youth. 

At the period of his settlement, and even at his 
death, there had been no outward and marked division 
in the churches. In the Congregational churches of 


Massachusetts there had been no uniform confession 
of faith. Neither the churches nor the ministers 
were amenable to any tribunal, and the spirit of Con- 
gregationalism had left every minister at liberty to 
gather his sentiments and opinions from the only rule 
of faith, a conscientious study of the word of God. 
The differences of opinion, which must necessarily 
exist among men who think for themselves, had not 
arisen to such a height as to form schisms or separa- 
tions of churches. Trinitarians, Arminians, Calvin- 
ists, Hopkinsians, and Baptists united in acts of 
Christian fellowship. At ordinations and councils, 
Dr. Morse and Dr. Channing, Dr. Osgood and Dr. 
Kirkland, sat side by side, and were associated in 
apparent harmony together. This has since been 
called a deceitful show of union, involving a disin- 
genuous concealment of opinions, arising from a spirit 
of indifference to the purity of doctrine, and an attach- 
ment to worldly advantages. To some minds, it may 
seem to have been a prudent and generous accommo- 
dation to the spirit of brotherly love, and that it did 
as much honor to the ministers of Massachusetts as 
any thing in their history. While, to some, it may 
appear that the true doctrines of the Church were 
sacrificed in such freedom, others will be persuaded 
that the spirit of Christian fellowship, and the only 
true Gospel influences, were advanced ; and that, if 
dogmas and polemics were kept in abeyance, minis- 
ters and people became better Christians. 

It was certainly honorable to those who thus ac- 
corded, that they considered the things in which they 
agreed as of more importance than those in which 
they differed, and as being a sufficient ground of Chris- 


tian communion. It was thought, also, at that time, 
that a man might be sincere, if erroneous, and capa- 
ble of teaching that which, with God's blessing, 
would save men's souls, if he did not acknowledge as 
infallible truth all the so-called doctrines of the Refor- 
mation. And this honor attaches to all parties ; for 
each minister seems secretly to have determined, ' I will 
not be the first to open a schism. I will stand fast in 
the liberty wherewith Christ has made me free, and 
those who abridge this liberty are the only sectarians.' 
It has been made a frequent subject of reproach, 
especially at the present time, against those who re- 
jected the doctrines of orthodoxy, among whom the 
younger subject of this memoir is recognized, that 
they did not come out and make proclamation of their 
opinions upon certain points, and of their disagree- 
ment with the dogmas of Calvin. What has just 
been said seems a sufficient answer. They were 
amenable to no one for their opinions. These opin- 
ions were formed with slow, anxious, and painful 
study, and there was no moment in the process of 
their laborious investigation that any one had a right 
to demand a confession from them of their progress 
or their conclusions. They were accountable to their 
own consciences only, which required them to 
preach what they believed, not what they did not be- 
lieve. Then, parishes, as we have seen, were some- 
times in advance of the ministers, and, in many 
cases, more liberal than they. From the peculiar bit- 
terness of theological divisions, it could not be hoped 
that such a state of things would long continue. 
When, after the death of Eckley, and Emerson, and 
Buckminster, those who had departed from the faith 


of Calvin, were placed in antagonism with their 
brethren, they were sufficiently ready to defend them- 
selves and their position ; but that was after the 
period with which these memoirs have any concern. 
The only public hostility which Mr. Buckminster 
encountered was a severe attack upon a small collec- 
tion of hymns prepared for the use of the Brattle 
Street Church. The reviewer charged him with 
unauthorized alterations, for the purpose of suppress- 
ing certain doctrines. The hymns were adapted to 
particular subjects of discourses, and intended to sup- 
ply the deficiencies of Tate and Brady's version ; and 
it has been mentioned in another page of this memoir 
that the compiler took them from Dr. Kippis's selec- 
tion, and was ignorant that any alteration had been 
made in them. In writing to Rev. Mr. Belsham, of 
England, at this time, he speaks thus of the state of 
religion in Boston : — 

' December 5th, 1809. 

1 The most exclusive spirit of Calvinism seems now re- 
viving, and perhaps gaining ground, in Boston. I have 
been exposed to some of its deadliest shafts in consequence 
of a little collection of hymns, unorthodox, not heterodox, 
which 1 have made for the use of my society. However, 
we shall stand our ground very firmly in Boston. There is 
no place on the face of the globe where so much attention 
is paid to ministers by all ranks, especially by the most 
enlightened. Those very men who, in New York and 
Philadelphia, would probably be unbelievers because they 
could not be Calvinists, are, among us in Boston, rational 
Christians, — the most constant supporters of public wor- 
ship, the most intimate friends of the clergy, and not a few 
of them professors of religion. Our only danger is in our 
security and strength. " In such an hour as we think not, 


sudden destruction may come upon us," but I think there is 
a root of rationality and soberness in Boston, which, with 
God's blessing, can never fail to spring up and flourish here, 

except by the culpable indifference of its cultivators 

4 1 am in general much pleased with Macknight. I need 
not tell you that the great difficulty in Paul's Epistles lies 
in about half a dozen words. If I could settle their mean- 
ing, I should bless God all the rest of my life. 
' Yours, with the highest regard, 


Dr. Eckley, the venerable pastor of the Old South 
Church, died in April, 1811 ; and it was in the follow- 
ing terms that the pastor of Brattle Street, who was 
counted in the van of the advocates of liberal views, 
spoke of him the Sabbath after his interment : — 

4 When the image of Dr. Eckley rises to my thoughts, 
I cannot for a moment suspect that the regard shown to 
his memory was the dictate of form, or a tribute to office 
or to age. No ; it was the tribute which virtue pays to 
virtue, which friendship pays to friendship. It was the lan- 
guage of undisguised affection and esteem. It was the 
homage which the community, even when most corrupt, 
will always pay to a heart of whose goodness it is sure. 
True, he was a faithful minister ; but he was also a faithful 
man ; he was respected and loved in every place, as well 
as in his office. 

4 Those who were his coevals and his long-tried asso- 
ciates bear witness to his faithfulness, and the disinterested- 
ness of his friendships. Those of us who were younger in 
the ministry, and who could not be expected to form those 
close intimacies which was the privilege of those who knew 
him early, yet cannot speak of his worth without ardent 
wishes that it had pleased God to continue him longer to 
us. His desire to preserve a Christian fellowship, and the 


most liberal intercourse with his brethren, was too well 
known to be doubted, and cannot be remembered without 
gratitude and admiration. Every day made his life valua- 
ble to us as a friend and father, a mediator in our profes- 
sion. He had no bitterness ; no uncharitableness ; no desire 
for spiritual authority ; no symptoms of religious pride ; no 
tendencies to an exclusive system of Christianity. He was 
indeed a man who loved the religion of Christ wherever it 
existed, and who loved a good man in whatever denomina- 
tion he found him. He had the reputation of what is often 
called orthodox theology ; and the character of his early 
preaching, and the nature of his early connections, had 
contributed to establish the opinion of his being attached 
to a creed more dogmatical than was received by many 
of his contemporaries and successors in the ministry. But 
he always evinced a most amiable anxiety to manifest his 
superiority to those principles of exclusion and separation 
which some men think are the natural consequences of 
his belief. I do not believe that the mere circumstance 
of speculative dissent ever alienated his mind from a single 
human being, or quenched the warmth of his ministerial 
attachment to his brethren. He abhorrred a selfish spirit 
in religion as well as in common life. Would to God that 
his spirit might descend upon us in all its generosity and 
purity ! for as long as the remembrance of him remains 
among his brethren in the ministry, they will not want a 
standard of Catholicism by which they may ascertain what 
spirit they are of. 

4 There was also a great simplicity and openness, as well 
as purity of character, in Dr. Eckley, which was character- 
istic of a Christian, in whom there should be no guile. He 
was a man who had no hidden and private purposes to 
serve, and you could always put trust in him without 
anxiety ; and I may safely appeal to you all for the general 
impression which prevailed of his integrity and candor; — 
an impression which is never delusive, and which no man 



can preserve through a life of such length as his, without 
deserving the character he has gained. This is that honest 
testimony which public and private sentiment pays to a 
man of real worth, which is the true reflection of the testi- 
mony of a man's own conscience, and is worth more 
than all the eulogies of orators and all the forms of 


'In short, Dr. Eckley seems to me to have been one of 
those men whose loss it is extremely difficult to supply. He 
filled a place which few men are so happy as to hold, or 
to be able to fill, between the extremes into which minis- 
ters, who are of like passions with other men, are con- 
tinually rushing. It was impossible not to respect him ; and 
many, many will confess with a sigh, that they loved him, 
— they were not prepared to lose him ; and his affectionate 
spirit w r as fled before we could bid it farewell ; and long, 
long will it be before we can replace him ! It would have 
been grateful to us to witness the disposition of his mind 
while departing, — to have received his parental regards, — 
to have expressed our respect and affection to so advanced 
and worthy a brother ; but God, in whose hands are the 
issues of life, determined otherwise, and we know that He 
is wise and gracious, and that He has some good purpose 
to serve by this truly afflictive dispensation. He is gone to 
his long home, and the mourners go about the streets ; 
yet thy presence, O God, has gone with him and given 
him rest ! ' 

There was felt, by the older ministers of the Boston 
Association, — by Dr. Eckley, Dr. Lathrop, and Dr. 
Osgood, — the greatest reluctance to break the ancient 
harmony of the churches. As each one had formed 
his opinions through a sincere desire for truth, guiding 
his search in the Scriptures, they were unwilling to 
insist upon any other centre of union, or any other 
standard of truth, except the Scriptures. As Calvin- 


ism was renounced, different aspects of dissent ap- 
peared, according to the character of each mind in 
which it had lost its authority. In some, as an intel- 
lectual protest against incomprehensible doctrines ; in 
others, as a plea against dogmatism ; and in many, as 
a desire for a more simple, and spiritual, and reason- 
able faith. There was but one point upon which the 
liberal party were united, — the rejection of the doc- 
trine of the Trinity ; to admit the personal Godhead 
of Christ was to them impossible. Upon no other 
subject could they have agreed in an issue. Upon 
the doctrines of the atonement, the supernatural influ- 
ences of the Spirit, the inspiration of the Scriptures, 
so much did they differ, that they probably would not 
have held together. On these subjects, some of the 
liberal party would have been found, at the time of 
which we speak, on the side of orthodoxy. How 
futile, then, is the charge against them, that they con- 
cealed their sentiments because they were not pre- 
pared for acts of decision ! Both parties deprecated 
that religious warfare which would estrange parish 
from parish, brother from brother, and bring into the 
tenderest hearts the most acute distress. But, now 
that it is passed, every one must acknowledge that 
the area of the warfare has been enriched. A more 
thorough and critical investigation of the Scriptures 
is demanded ; a deeper and more fervently religious 
spirit is cultivated in all the churches ; and a more 
general knowledge of theology and kindred subjects 
pervades the whole community. 

Some extracts from unpublished manuscript ser- 
mons follow; — and here it should be distinctly re- 


marked, that although Mr. Buckminster is ranked, and 
justly, among Unitarians, yet he never took the name 
upon himself, nor used it as a distinctive term, signifi- 
cant of his own faith. He was not a sectarian in 
feeling, nor a controversialist in practice. He pos- 
sessed nothing of the odium theo logicum, which has 
sometimes shown itself since his death. Those who 
belong to opposite parties in the Church, though they 
may differ from the conclusions to which he came in 
applying the rules of criticism to the interpretation 
of the sacred writers, have ever done justice to the 
candor and honesty of mind displayed in his critical 
and theological discussions. 

1 " The Christ, the Son of the living God." — Mat. xvi. 16. 

4 When we receive Jesus as the Christ, we receive him as 
he has himself repeatedly explained the character, and 
as it is announced in the prophecies to which he has him- 
self appealed ; — as the Son of God ; the Holy One of God ; 
the Sent of God ; the Anointed, the Sanctified of God ; — in 
short, to comprise in one expression of our Saviour's the 
whole of the sentiment contained in the reception of Jesus 
as the Christ, it is to honor the Son as he honors the Father; 
his authority and that of the Father is, to the Christian, 
coincident and identical. 

' In this explanation of that article of faith on which all 
our Christianity is built, there appears to me nothing am- 
biguous or difficult. To receive Jesus as the Christ, it is 
neither necessaiy that we should understand the concep- 
tions of that character as they existed in the minds of the 
Jews, nor that we should know the whole signification of 
the meaning included in the phrase " Son of God ; '' but 
that we should take the explanations, as far as we can un- 
derstand them, which our Lord himself has given us of his 


character, and receive him as clothed with the authority of 
God. Let me but know, let me be convinced, that any 
sentiment, law, promise, or declaration is Christ's, and it is 
to me, a Christian, the word of God, — the word of the 
Father which the Son has revealed. 

8 Among; those who have no doubt of the truth of our 
religion, and who claim to be its supporters, great diversity 
of opinion prevails as to the person of Jesus Christ. You 
will find many making the Son of God not their teacher, 
their leader, their model, and their judge, but a kind of 
intermediate protection, a screen from the justice of the 
Father. They are ready to receive him as a propitiation, 
a security, a sacrifice, a substitute ; as one on whose mercy 
they repose to shelter them from the fury of the Deity ; but 
not as the King whose laws they ought to obey, whose 
spirit they must imbibe, and whose steps they must follow. 
They represent to themselves Jesus as one who has suffered 
all the punishment due to the sinner, and whose righteous- 
ness is to be imputed to them. His blood, they imagine, 
has washed them from their pollutions, and his sufferings 
have paid an infinite satisfaction for their sins. As Jesus is, 
in their opinion, the Infinite and Almighty Deliverer, they 
seem to think, that, if by a single act of faith they have 
got him upon their side, they have no more to fear, and 
are released from the penalties which their iniquities de- 
serve. I hope, my Christian hearers, that I need not cau- 
tion you against these abuses, or tell you that, whatever 
may be the personal dignity of your Saviour, you cannot 
attain to final salvation without repentance for your sins, 
a pure faith in his religion, and true, steadfast, unreserved 
obedience to his Gospel. 

1 What, then, is the idea that the sincere and intelligent 
Christian entertains of Jesus Christ, — he who confesses 
with his whole heart that he is the Christ, the Son of the 
living God ? He does not perplex himself with fruitless 
inquiries into the precise nature of that relation which sub- 



sisted between Jesus on earth and the Supreme Deity ; he 
does not disturb his mind with endeavoring to explain the 
manner in which he was the Son of God, nor the precise 
boundaries between his nature and that of the Father. No ; 
it is to him of much more importance to ascertain the rela- 
tion in which Jesus stands to himself, — what Jesus is to 
him and he to Jesus." He receives without difficulty the 
declaration which Jesus has made of himself as the only 
begotten Son of the Highest ; he views him as enjoying the 
most intimate union with the Deity, full of his energy and 
spirit ; his visible likeness on earth ; the express image, 
among men, of the Supreme, whom no mortal eye hath 
seen, or can see. He receives him as the expected object 
of ancient prediction, ordained to appear, to diffuse blessings 
and life over the world. He who knows him, knows the 
Father. He who honors him, honors the Father who sent 
him. To the faithful Christian, Jesus is the restorer of 
human integrity and happiness ; able to reform and to lead 
us to God. He is the Pvlediator who brings us nearer to 
God ; and proclaims the peace and pardon, and imparts the 
blessings of the New Covenant. He is the Deliverer from 
sin and death ; the Saviour ; the Prince of Life. The 
Christian looks to him as the great leader, whose steps he 
is to follow, whose character he is to resemble, whose de- 
cision he is to await. He looks to him as the head of the 
Christian community, to whom all authority is committed, 
to whom is due entire submission and obedience, and who 
will become wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and 
redemption to those who will obey him. He is indeed, 
like Thomas, on the recognition of the Saviour, ready to 
exclaim, " My Lord and my God ! " 

)5 ? 


1 " Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 

John iii. 3. 

' It is not enough, Nicodemus, that you should visit me 
in the secrecy of the night to declare your belief in my 


Divine authority ; for except a man be born again, of water 
and of the Holy Spirit, — except you openly profess my 
religion and your heart be transformed into the spirit of my 
Gospel, — you cannot be a subject of the kingdom I am 
about to establish 

4 Nicodemus, either intentionally or ignorantly misunder- 
standing our Saviour, supposes him to mean a repetition of 
man's natural birth. " How can a man be born," says he, 
" when he is old ? " This mistake leads our Saviour to 
explain with more particularity the nature and course of the 
moral change, or new birth. " The wind bloweth where it 
listeth and thou nearest the sound thereof, but canst not 
tell whence it cometh, nor whither it goeth : so is every one 
that is born of the Spirit." The changes and revolutions of 
the human mind mock the eye of sense in their progress. 
They are known only by their effects. The operations of 
God's Spirit, — the influence of causes that change the 
whole character, that produce a revolution like that ot a 
new birth, are silent as the wheels of time. You hear not 
its footsteps, you see not its passing form, but the effects 
are momentous and eternal. Your mind is raised to a 
purer atmosphere ; your thoughts reach a more exalted 
height ; you better understand your relation to God and 
Christ, and the holy duties that result from your new 

' Look back, my hearers, upon your lives, aud observe 
the numerous opinions that you have adopted and discarded, 
the numerous attachments you have formed and forgotten, 
and recollect how imperceptible were the revolutions of 
your sentiments, how quiet the changes of your affections. 
Perhaps, even now, your minds may be passing through 
some interesting processes, your pursuits may be taking 
some new direction, and your character may soon exhibit 
to the world some unexpected transformation. Compare 
with this the spiritual regeneration of the heart. So is every 
one that is born of the Spirit. Perhaps the following may 


not be an imperfect description of the process that takes 
place in a mind which is the subject of a radical conversion. 
The motion of the wind is unseen, its effects are visible ; 
the trees bend and fields are laid waste ; though the alter- 
in or sentiments and affections are unnoticed, the altered 
character obtrudes itself upon our observation. Truths, 
before contemplated without concern, now seize the mind 
with a grasp too firm to be shaken. The world which is 
to succeed the present is no longer a subject of accidental 
thought, of wavering belief, or lifeless speculation ; a region 
to which no tie binds us, and which no curiosity leads us 
to explore. To the regenerated mind, the character and 
condition of man appears in a new, an interesting light. 
To a being whose existence has but just commenced, death 
is only a boundary, a line, that marks off the first, the 
smallest portion of existence. Earth with her retinue of 
allurements, her band of fascinating syrens, exclaims, " We 
have lost our hold on this man ! He is no longer ours ! " 
Religion welcomes her new adherent ; she beckons him to 
turn his steps into a new, a pleasanter path ; and God him- 
self looks down from heaven with complacency and love, 
illuminating his track by the light of his countenance, mark- 
ing the first step he takes in religion, and supporting him by 

the staff of his grace, the aid of his Holy Spirit 

' 2d. But what means does the Spirit of God use to effect 
this regeneration, to form this character, to cherish this life 
of God in the soul of man ? On this subject much has been 
spoken and written mystically, much unintelligibly, much 
absurdly, and much falsely. It has been said, with daring 
impiety, that the more profligate, profane, and corrupted the 
character, the more probable is its regeneration, that God 
may show to an astonished world what wonders his grace 
can effect. Every age has been deluded with accounts of 
the physical and mechanical operations of the Spirit, so 
that we should probably suppose it to be some subtle fluid, 
instantaneous and irresistible in its effects. But in the 


whole course of Scripture history, comparing a period of 
thousands of years, not an instance can be found of the 
use of violent means for the production of a merely moral 
change. Should the conversation of Paul be alleged, as it 
ever is, to support the cause of enthusiasm, let it once for 
ail be considered that it is a solitary instance, and in an 
age abounding with miracles ; and secondly, that the public 
and instantaneous change of such a man, who was an 
enemy to the faith, added to the weight of testimony in 
favor of Christianity a wonderful fact, which cannot be 
accounted for except in supposition of the truth of the 
history of Jesus, and it thus gives a peculiar propriety to 

the mode of conversion in this case 

i But as long as it is easier to fall down in swoons, to start 
in convulsions, and to groan in distress, than to renovate and 
purify the heart, — as long as it is possible to gain belief to 
professions of an instantaneous change without showing the 
gradual operation of the Spirit in the progressive reforma- 
tion, increasing holiness and goodness, of the character, — 
so long will the cause of Christ be dishonored, the minds of 
the good disturbed, and the ear of the infidel delighted, by 

pious delusions and solemn extravagances 

1 " Sanctify us by thy truth ; thy word is truth," says the 
Gospel. " Those who are born again," says Peter, " are 
born not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the 
word of God." At this word the proudest hearts have 
bowedj and consciences encased in mail, invulnerable to 
the feeble weapons of philosophy and unchristianized 
morality, have been pierced to the quick, and sought the 
only remedy for their wounds in the balmy blessings of 

the Gospel of peace 

1 " Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born 
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The necessity 
of this new birth appears from the nature and condition of 
man. We wish not to enter into the consideration of the 
doctrine of original sin, depravity, or the imputation of sin. 


Leaving these terms of theology, look round only, we entreat 
vou, on the world in which we live; see it deformed by 
corruption, spotted by pollution ; see it full of men buried 
in sinful pursuits and enslaved to innumerable lusts that war 
against the soul. The first objects that engage the dawning 
mind of the child are objects of sense. That which is bom 
of the flesh is flesh. It is a selfish, sensual creature, igno- 
rant of its Creator, of its destination ; uninclined to the 
purity, the spirituality, the power of religion ; alienated 
from the life of God, the life of the soul ! Unrenewed by 
the influence of religious truth, undirected by the guiding 
hand of an Almighty Father, how shall such a creature 
reach the regions of immortal bliss ? Is it enthusiasm, is 
it folly, is it hypocrisy, to say to such a creature, " You 
must be born again before you can see the kingdom of 
God ? " Is that Redeemer to be disclaimed who offers you- 
his Divine aid to form anew your character, to exalt your 
affections, to enlighten your dreary and desolate under- 
standing ? Would it not be a contemptuous abridgment of 
the bounty, and an ungrateful restriction of the meaning, 
of the Saviour, to suppose that he intended to confine his 
assertion of the necessity of this regeneration to the Jews 
or Gentiles of that age ? Reflect, it is not with Nicodemus 
only, but with us, he is conversing ; and if our lips declare 
" We know, Master, thou art a teacher sent from God," to 
us he still replies, " Verily, I say unto you, you are not my 
disciples till you are regenerated ; till you have imbibed 
my Spirit, you cannot inherit my future and immortal 
empire." 1 

1 " In whom we have redemption through his blood." — Col. i. 14. 

[After enumerating the various ways in which the death 
of Christ is spoken of in the Scriptures, the nature and 
meaning of sacrifices among the Jews, &c. : — ] 'In the 
second place, I propose to state to you, in general, some 


of the ideas which Christians have entertained on the sub- 
ject of the death of Christ. Here you will immediately 
perceive that a plain line of distinction must necessarily be 
drawn between those who receive the language of Scripture 
on this subject in a literal sense, and those who give it only 
a figurative interpretation. Of the ideas of the latter, I 
may say in general, that they imply such a diminution of 
the strict meaning of language as is hardly consistent with 
any commonly received notion of inspiration. They sup- 
pose the death of Christ was described in sacrificial terms, 
borrowed from the Old Testament, in order to reconcile the 
Jewish Christians to the simplicity of the new dispensation, 
and enable them to find something in Christianity answering 
to the sacrifices, oblations, priests, and ceremonies to which 
they had been accustomed under the old dispensation. If, 
however, the sacrifices under the Mosaic dispensation 
had any expiating efficacy, and the Apostles believed that 
they had, it cannot be supposed that the death of Christ, 
which they represented as supplying their place, should be 
so described in mere accommodation to the idea of the 
Jews, unless it in truth contained something of a similar 
or superior nature. These Christians, therefore, believing 
that there is nothing in the nature of sin which may not be 
pardoned upon repentance, believe, too, of course, that sac- 
rifices which had been considered necessary to the accept- 
ableness of repentance, was neither in truth of any intrinsic 
value, nor had they any reference to the great atone- 
ment which they had been said to prefigure. But if there 
is nothing really propitiatory in the practice of sacrifices, 
it is extremely difficult to account for the idea which has 
universally prevailed of their necessity in order to secure 
the favor of God, and not less difficult to account for their 
origin and prevalence in the world. They suppose, also, 
that the intention of the Mosaic expiations did not regard 
the moral element, but only ceremonial uncleanness, or 
something equally unimportant ; that they had no reference 


to, or prefiguration of, the death of Christ, and, of course, 
that, whatever value they possessed, they did not derive it 
from that great sacrifice foreordained in the councils of 
Heaven. In one word, they take it for granted, that the 
death of Christ is described in these sacrificial terms, not 
because it really possessed an expiatoiy efficacy, or an 
efficacy similar to that belonging to the Jewish sacrifices, 
but because there were circumstances in the one, to which 
they could find something parallel in the other. You will 
easily perceive how much this reduces the literal meaning 
of the language of the Scriptures, and will perhaps say that 
it leaves as many difficulties unaccounted for as the system 
of those who adopt the literal meaning. 

' In direct opposition to this latitudinarian explanation, 
and at the other extreme, is the system of those who con- 
sider the death of Christ as that great event upon which the 
pardon of the world depends, and without which, no person 
living, whatever his character may be, short of entire inno- 
cence, can be rescued from eternal condemnation and 
misery, which is the positive punishment to be annexed in 
a future life to the smallest transgression. 

1 The notions of sin, on which their system is founded, 
are these : — The least deviation from the laws of God is 
either an infinite evil, or such an infinite dishonor to his 
character, that it cannot, consistently with God's justice, or 
the nature of things, be forgiven simply upon repentance, 
without some satisfaction equivalent to the dreadfulness of 
the evil. Some, however, disdain as presumptuous the asser- 
tion that God cannot forgive the offences of men without 
some scheme of atonement, and only maintain that it was 
inconsistent with his attributes and character to forgive sin 
upon mere repentance, or in any other manner. Under 
this idea, therefore, that there was something of vicarious 
atonement in the death of Christ, without which sin was 
unpardonable, they explain the origin of sacrifices, and the 
notions of mankind respecting their efficacy. They sup- 


pose that sacrifices were originally instituted by God in 
reference to this great and final sacrifice, and this only 
gave them their significance and value. They suppose that 
unless the death of Christ is considered as a real expiation, 
no well-grounded hope can be entertained by any man of 
deliverance from the future and everlasting punishment of 
his sins ; and of course they maintain that all the repre- 
sentations in Scripture relating to this subject convey the 
idea of, and require the belief of, a true and proper atone- 

4 It is true, that upon this scheme, there is some difficulty 
in reconciling the phrases, which represent Christ some- 
times as the priest, and sometimes as the sacrifice ; and 
which attribute the efficacy of his mediation sometimes to 
his example, sometimes to his death, at others to his resur- 
rection, and in others to his intercession. Upon the whole, 
therefore, they are willing to admit that all that Christ did 
and suffered is to be taken into the account ; that his 
obedience altogether constitutes the equivalent satisfaction, 
without which it was impossible for the sins of mankind 
to be forgiven. 

4 Between these two views of the subject many others have 
been invented by theologians, giving up or retaining more 
or less of the peculiarities of each. These I have not time 
or inclination to detail to you. In order, however, to arrive 
at just conceptions of the nature of our redemption, and to 
avoid the extravagances into which systematic theologians 
have fallen, it is necessary to keep in mind the following 
principles : — In considering the character and conduct of 
our God, we must be careful not to separate any one of his 
attributes from the others, his mercy from his justice, or his 
justice from his mercy. This would be to reduce his nature 
to our limited conceptions. His attributes are all har- 
monious, and his nature one great impulse toward what is 
best. Hence, if we contemplate his mere justice, apart 
and unmodified by any other quality, we must in truth con- 

30 ' 


sider our relation to him in the light of debt and credit ; 
and in this view of the subject, it may be said, indeed, that 
he could not forgive an offender, till some adequate satisfac- 
tion, beside mere repentance was provided, to render it 
proper to be propitious. But the light in which reason and 
Christianity represent God is that of a parent. Now a 
parent, however disposed he may be to forgive a disobedient 
child, may yet think it highly proper not to receive him into 
favor, upon his mere symptoms of returning affection ; but 
may rest his acceptance on some condition, which, though 
not strictly indispensable, may yet be extremely proper, to 
impress the child more strongly with the crime of his dis- 
obedience, and operate to prevent a repetition of the offence. 
Such is the light in which we ought to consider the method 
which God has adopted in declaring his disposition to for- 
give his offending children of the human race. Again : 
whatever may have been the real efficacy of the death 
of Christ, it cannot be supposed that the change of dis- 
position is wrought upon God. His nature is immutable, 
and his purposes are originally benevolent. The object of 
the Scripture representation is to operate upon ourselves. 
Till the effect is produced upon ourselves, the propitiation of 
our Saviour, however great or powerful, is of no avail to our 

' Keeping in view, then, the parental character of God, 
and the object of the sacrifice of Christ, let us always con- 
sider that the method which God has chosen, to declare and 
to dispense his pardon, is unquestionably the wisest and best. 
You may ask why God could not have explicitly declared, 
that, upon the sincere repentance of a sinner, he was ready 
to receive him into favor, without connecting it in any way 
with the sacrifice of so illustrious a person as the Son of 
God ; I answer, I know not. I know only, that God has 
chosen another method, which he undoubtedly thought more 
effectual and proper. I may answer you, too, by proposing 
a parallel example. If you ask me why God could not 


have effected his purpose of bringing life and immortality to 
light, by simply assuring us of it upon his bare authority, 
without coupling it with, or making it depend, as he has 
done, on the resurrection of his Son, I can only answer, 
because he has thought the latter method more effectual. It 
was unquestionably better calculated to influence the belief 
of the contemporaries of our Lord to show them the fact of 
a person's rising from the dead, than any mere declaration 
of a future existence could have been. In the same man- 
ner, he has thought it better to assure the world of the par- 
don of sin, by setting before their eyes the great sacrifice of 
Jesus, and directing their attention to it in this light, than 
merely by a simple declaration of his placability. If these 
remarks are properly considered, I think we shall be more 
disposed to acquiesce in the method which God has chosen ; 
and, instead of presumptuously declaring what he might 
have done, we shall, with humility, endeavor to derive from 
the Scripture account of the sacrifice of Christ, motives of 
gratitude and consolation, and a deep abhorrence of those 
sins which occasioned this scheme of suffering and death. 

4 1 proceed, therefore, with more pleasure, to the third 
head of my discourse, in which I proposed to consider the 
practical considerations suggested by the death of Christ. 

4 1. In the first place, it leads us to the most exalted 
and touching conceptions of the mercy of God. My dear 
friends, have you ever looked into your own hearts, and 
compared them with the purity of God ? Have you ever 
considered that it is mercy and unmerited and perfectly 
gratuitous forbearance only in your Creator which has 
continued you yet in life, and withheld from you that pun- 
ishment which your ingratitude and your unworthiness have 
deserved ? What was it but compassion, which could hold 
out to creatures like us the hope of the future friendship of 
the pure Being, who cannot behold iniquity, even the most 
secret and unobserved, without abhorrence ? And what 
but the most unbounded benignity, far beyond the ordinary 


standard by which we estimate goodness, would have pro- 
vided a dispensation by which such unpretending and 
worthless men as we are may aspire to eternal felicity and 
improvement ? Have you considered, also, the dreary and 
benighted state of the world, on the subject of pardon, 
before the appearance of Christ ? the horrible notions which 
prevailed of the Divinity, the dread of his justice, the inex- 
pressible fears and horrors with which futurity was invested, 
the tremendous sacrifices with which the Deity was propiti- 
ated, the heart-rending doubts which prevailed in the purest 
and most enlightened minds on the subject, as to the Divine 
placability ? Whenever a good man reaches that last hour, 
when the world shrinks into nothing in his sight, and, in- 
stead of it, when all his sins and imperfections rise up in 
fearful array before him, — when his conscience tells him 
what he has deserved, but holds out no certain, sure, and 
pacifying method of obtaining pardon and relief, — then it 
is that he may learn to estimate the mercy of the Gospel 
dispensation. Then, when he is looking round for some 
promises of pardon, the method of salvation by Jesus Christ 
our Lord presents itself as an inexpressible consolation, 
and he blesses God for the hope of his Gospel ! He now 
regards every thing which Jesus has suffered as a pledge 
from God of the security of his gracious promise. Every 
other expiation, oblation, ceremony, however expensive, or 
however awful, he sees to be worse than ineffectual, — even 
impious. In this state of mind his philosophy deserts him. 
He receives with humility and joy the redemption held out 
by Jesus. He sees in Jesus the compassionate character of 
God, and he sees it clearly nowhere else. He is no longer 
disposed to inquire into the minute relations of every thing 
which he sees in the sacrifice of Christ ; but he embraces 
the simple declaration that God is in Christ, and reconciling 
the world unto himself, not imputing unto men their tres- 
passes. He sees enough of the character of God in the 
simple fact, that he has given the world an encouragement, 


by the death of so pure and spotless a victim, that the 
access to God is open, and the hope of pardon a hope to 
which he may aspire. He will feel unable to express his 
gratitude to the Father of mankind, that he has not left them 
in distressing ignorance, in all the horrors of unexpiated 
guilt ; but whatever assurance can possibly be afforded to 
unworthy creatures is contained in the scheme of redemp- 
tion which God has chosen to display his benignity. 
" Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved 
us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins." ' 

The extracts which follow are from the last ser- 
mon, except two, which my brother ever wrote. 
The sermon was written in the April previous to 
his death, and may be understood to express his 
last opinions. 

' " What shall I do to inherit eternal life ? " — Luke x. 25. 

1 We have the authority of the Saviour to answer the 
question in one invariable manner : " If thou wouldst enter 
into life, keep the commandments." But here a question 
arises, whether it be possible, from the nature and condition 
of man, perfectly to keep the commandments of God ? If 
not, how can this be the condition of human salvation ? 
We answer, that, though there should not be a just man 
upon earth, who sinneth not, it alters not the requisitions of 
the Divine law. Since, in speaking of God, we must make 
use of human language, of what are called forensic terms, 
we may observe that it is the very nature of law, and indeed 
of every rule, to require the most exact conformity. The 
law of God, like every other, when considered simply as 
law, provides no dispensations, and exposes every offender, 
even in the minutest degree, to punishment. It would not 
be law, indeed, if it did not. But though the Scriptures, 
and the systems of theologians in different places, represent 
the moral government of God over his imperfect creatures, 



under two different aspects, of a covenant of works and a 
covenant of grace, of pure law and pure mercy, as if they 
were opposite and irreconcilable principles ; yet we should 
beware of contemplating the character of God as consisting 
of attributes at war with one another, but rather should we 
consider it in the whole as one great impulse toward what 
is best. It is impossible, indeed, from the nature of the 
case, to admit that God's law, as it is called, requires any 
thing short of perfect obedience. This we cannot allow, 
while we continue to talk of God in terms of human legisla- 
tion ; it is the unavoidable consequence of the application 
of the language of men to the ways of God. Yet when we 
say, that God requires from every man an obedience abso- 
lutely sinless, we know, at the same time, that he provides 
for the pardon of transgressors on their repentance. 

' The parental character is that in which God has ever 
delighted to exhibit himself; and it was to display, confirm, 
and establish on the surest grounds this parental character 
of God, that the Son of God came into the world. The 
dispensation of Christianity proceeds altogether on this view, 
and any other dispensation toward such a nature as man's 
would be absolute cruelty and injustice. If men choose to 
say, that this favor, or grace, or mercy, toward offenders, or 
by whatever name it may be called, was obtained by the 
sacrifice of Christ, or is dispensed on the ground of his 
propitiation, it comes to the same thing ; because, for the 
original appointment of this mode of acceptance, we must 
still revert to the precious love, or, in other words, to the 
parental character of God. 

1 Further, if it should be asked whether any human being 
has ever attained to this sinless conformity to the Divine 
commands, we answer, No ; for this would imply that some 
one of our race had reached that point of perfection beyond 
which improvement was impossible, — a supposition incon- 
sistent with our present condition as a state of probation, 
contrary to all the representations of Scripture, and to all our 
experience of human character. 


* What ! then, you will say, has no human being ever 
merited the gift of eternal life ? We answer, Certainly he 
has not. For it is the very nature of the Gospel, that it is 
a dispensation of grace, that its great benefit cannot be 
claimed as a debt, but is bestowed in consequence of a 
gracious promise. Yet it is no less true that the sincere and 
uniform endeavor to do what God requires, and repentance 
for failures and transgressions, which is followed by amend- 
ment, may be called the eternal condition of everlasting 
life, because the character and declarations of God have 
explicitly made them such under the dispensation of Chris- 

' But it may again be asked, if our final acceptance with 
God depends, not on absolute and sinless perfection, but on. 
that sincerity of disposition and endeavor which produces 
prevailing obedience and continual progress in virtue, how 
is it possible for any one to be sure of eternal life, or to 
know whether he is, at any one time, in a state of salvation ? 
4 1 answer, in the first place, that, if men desire to know 
what precise amount of holiness will rescue them from 
perdition, the very question implies that they have not the 
true principle of religious obedience ; and, if there be any 
answer to be given to such a question, it is most wisely 
concealed from us, for the very notion of true obedience is 
inconsistent with such an inquiry. 

6 In the second place, to the sincere Christian the answer 
would be useless ; for whatever assurance he might at one 
time indulge, yet, as long as he remains a probationary 
creature, liable to relapse, and, consequently, obliged to 
watchfulness and exertion, the assurance of salvation at any 
particular period would be injurious or deceitful. All that 
we should desire or expect to attain, is a well-grounded 
hope of our acceptance with God, as the reward of un- 
reserved obedience, of unfeigned repentance, of daily 
progress in Christian virtue. This is the hope which 
maketh not ashamed, for the love of God is shed abroad 
in the heart. 


4 Another mistake of the terms of acceptance with God 
is to rely upon faith only for salvation. This has generally 
been rather a verbal than a material error, and was in 
former times • more dangerous than now ; for a defect of 
faith, in the subject of Christianity, is, at the present day, 
far more common than too great confidence or credulity. 
But, as this mistake, like many others, is still founded on 
the sound of certain passages of Scripture, let us hear what 
is so often quoted from the favorite Apostle on this subject. 
" By grace," says he, " ye are saved through faith ; and a 
man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." 
Does Paul, then, mean to declare, that bare belief in Jesus 
Christ, without repentance and obedience, can secure to 
any man the gift of eternal salvation ? Let his brother 
Apostle answer, as he has, in terms which nothing can render 
more explicit : " What does it profit a man, if he say he 
have faith, and have not works ? Can faith save him ? 
No ; faith without works is dead, being alone." .... 

' Another mistake of the terms of acceptance with God 
is found among those who profess to rely solely upon the 
merits of Christ. It is not uncommon to find men, who have 
never evinced any sentiments of religion, or given any satis- 
factory evidence of repentance and reformation, using this 
too familiar language : " For does not an Apostle assure 
us," say they, " that we have an advocate with the Father, 
Jesus Christ the righteous, who is a propitiation for our sins, 
and not for ours only, but for the whole world?" But for 
what sins, my Christian friends ? For those which we 
have not forsaken, or of which we have not repented ? 
For those sins which we every day commit, without remorse 
and without consideration ? Suppose the merits of Christ 
be infinite, incalculable. Can they supply our sinful omis- 
sions of duty ? Christ has done nothing for the unrepenting 
sinner. Christ can do nothing for the presumptuous sinner, 
whose reliance on a Saviour's merit is thought sufficient to 
excuse him from any obedience or virtue of his own. 


1 The application of Christ's righteousness to ourselves 
is, in truth, a phrase altogether unscriptural. The word of 
God conveys no such meaning as the phrase bears in the 
mouth of an irreligious man. It is true, indeed, that the 
worth of our Saviour's life and character is beyond all 
estimate, and his obedience unto death was, in the sight 
of God, inexpressibly precious ; but never can this worth 
become ours, except so far as we repent and forsake our 
sins, and imitate his life and obedience ; and whatever may 
be, in the sight of God, the efficacy of his death, never 
let it be imagined that it is a propitiation for the sins which 
we still retain, the sins which we will not forsake ! 

' Again. Do we rely for salvation on the effectual and 
miraculous operation of God's spirit, pleading our inability 
to render that obedience which God's law requires ? Take 
care, my friends, that you do not misunderstand this abstract 
and difficult subject. 

' If we mean only, that, without this powerful energy and 
continual support, we could neither live, nor act, nor think, 
this indeed is well. If we mean, that, without his gracious 
instruction, encouragement, and blessing on our exertions, 
we could neither contend with our lusts, correct our habits, 
reform our lives, or make progress in the divine life, all 
this is undeniable. But, if we go further than this, if we 
imagine our inability to do what is good is such that it 
is not at any time in our power to cease to do evil, but that 
we may plead this impotency in defence of our sins, the 
very suggestion only shows the strength of our evil habits, 
the greatness of our corruption, and the extreme danger of 
our situation. 

' But does not an Apostle say, " We are not sufficient of 
ourselves, but all our sufficiency is of God " ? He does. 
But for what were these early converts not competent ? 
To perform what God had required of them ? To render 
obedience to his laws, and devote themselves to his ser- 
vice ? Surely not. The Apostle has here reference to 


those miraculous powers with which his brethren were fur- 
nished for the propagation of the Gospel. He is comparing 
the total inadequacy of the natural means, by which the 
astonishing work was accomplished, with the greatness of 
the effect. He has not the remotest reference to the com- 
mon ability of man to do the will of God, to lead a life of 
obedience and holiness. 

' The inability of man, by whatever name we call it, is 
no greater in the affairs of religion than in any other case, 
except so far as it is the consequence of his own peculiar 
depravity. If, indeed, it were an original, total, and uni- 
versal incapacity for religion, — if there were in us no 
powers which could be called into exercise by the various 
means of grace afforded us, no natural capacity of being 
affected by the motives presented to us, — the whole 
system of facts, doctrines, promises, and threatenings in the 
Gospel, were a cumbrous and unnecessary provision, and 
God has taken the superfluous care to persuade us to exert 
ourselves, and strive for that which, by a single motion of 
his will, he might have done for us instantly, effectually, 
completely, and which, according to the theories of some 
Christians, he must still do for us, by the extraordinary and 
irresistible operation of his Spirit.' 



minster's friendship for him. — j. s. buckminster's 



1808. There were other interesting occurrences 

ge 24 ' of the year 1808, which have been omitted, 
because it was desirable to present the sketch, how- 
ever imperfect it may be, of the beginning of the 
Unitarian controversy, and the participation that Mr. 
Buckminster had in preparing the way for the changes 
that have taken place in society, by themselves. He 
was called, indeed, to put off his armor before the 
heat and burden of the conflict began. Hitherto, his 
profession had led him to the most noble and interest- 
ing studies, to the cultivation of the best sympathies 
of his heart, and to the unembarrassed pursuit of 
truth. He had been the advocate of no party, and 
there might have been a fear that his mind would 
have suffered by a too exclusive application to the 
studies that would have fitted him to take his inevi- 
table part in the theological warfare of the great 
struggle that was just beginning. 

Unitarianism had at this time developed only ra- 
tional and critical powers. It had been an intellectual 


protest, a plea, against dogmatic theology. It had not 
yet touched the inward springs that open the rich 
fountains of imagination, of devotional fervor, and 
Divine Love. His was of that class of minds which 
would have soonest felt that the simple faith of Uni- 
tarians is most intimately united with a depth of spir- 
itual feeling, a height of sublime devotion, and a divine 
beauty of character, unsurpassed by any other faith ; 
and his sermons, as well as the numerous prayers that 
he has left, show that he already knew and felt that 

The year 1808 was also fraught with deep interest 
to Dr. Buckminster, in his more retired circle of duties 
in Portsmouth. There had always existed an inti- 
mate connection between the north and south parishes 
in that place. Dr. Haven, the venerable pastor of the 
south parish, had died in 1806. He had been like a 
father to Mr. Buckminster, when he first came, a 
stranger, to Portsmouth, and there had ever continued 
a close and intimate ministerial union between them. 
In' 1808, the Rev. Nathan Parker was invited to settle 
over the south church, and his ordination took place 
in the September of that year. 

Mr. Parker was of the new or liberal school of 
theology, and Dr. Buckminster, as we have seen, had 
become more strictly orthodox as he advanced in life. 
But one of the most valuable traits of Mr. Parker's 
character was honesty, — honesty in the fullest and 
most honorable sense of the word. ' He was imbued 
with a love of truth, exhibiting itself in singleness of 
purpose and sincerity of manner. There was no ap- 
pearance of guile in him ; he did nothing for effect. 
He was direct and independent. 5 He had also the 


deepest religious convictions, and the utmost sincerity 
of love to his Divine Master. Dr. Buckminster could 
not fail instantly to appreciate these noble qualities, so 
congenial also to his own feelings of truth. They 
met therefore with conscious sincerity, with full and 
entire confidence. By an open and frank avowal of 
his sentiments, Mr. Parker secured the lively esteem 
of Dr. Buckminster, and every succeeding interview 
only served to strengthen the attachment of the one, 
and the almost filial reverence and respect of the 
other. Dr. B. was absent at the ordination of Mr. 
Parker, and took no part in the services. But ■ I 
rejoice,' said he, ' that the South Parish have such a 
minister ; he is an honest young man, devoted to his 
profession ; he will be a staff to me in my declining 
years.' And they ever lived together like intimate 
and confidential friends. 

The widow of one of the deacons of the south 
church, having heard whispers of heresy against ' the 
new young man,' waited upon Dr. Buckminster as 
soon as he returned from the journey, and asked him 
if she had not better leave the heretical minister and 
join his own church, where she would hear a sounder 
doctrine. ' Stay where you are,' said he ; ' if you 
practise as well as Mr. Parker preaches, you will not 
need to go any where else.' 

The union of the two parishes continued uninter- 
rupted. The two pastors, the elder and the younger, 
were usually companions at all ministers' meetings, 
ordinations, and occasions of professional excursion ; 
and Dr. Buckminster always came home exhilarated 
by the cheerful intercourse of a younger and fresher 
mind. Certainly the acquisition of such a friend and 



companion as Mr. Parker contributed more to his hap- 
piness, in the few remaining years of his life, than 
any other circumstance that attended them. Theirs 
was a beautiful example of a union in the spirit of 
their Master, which merged all speculative differences 
of opinion in a superior love to him, and attachment 
to his cause. 

The year preceding the settlement of Mr. Parker, 
the circle of his ministerial associates and friends had 
been much weakened by the removal of Dr. Appleton 
from Hampton to become the President of Bowdoin 
College, thus depriving the Piscataqua Association of 
one of its most distinguished members, and Dr. Buck- 
minster of the cordial intercourse of a beloved friend. 
The diversity of opinion and unity of feeling in that 
Association has been already mentioned ; but Dr. 
Buckminster and Dr. Appleton w T ere not only united 
in the bonds of a warm personal regard, but in specu- 
lative opinion they came as near as any two minds of 
different mental endowment could come, to the same 
views of controverted subjects. They were both 
impressive preachers,' but they differed extremely in 
their mode of delivering truth. Dr. Appleton was 
never impassioned, but he' imparted to his sermons 
the force of his own convictions, and his eloquence 
and his arguments were irresistibly convincing to the 
understanding. Dr. Buckminster's sermons were rarely 
argumentative ; his manner was impassioned, his elo- 
quence persuasive, rather tending to excite emotion 
and alarm conscience, than to place the subject within 
the grasp of the intellect. 

These two friends spent much time together, and, 
after their separation, kept up a frequent intercourse 


by letter. It is to be regretted that the correspondence 
was not preserved. 

There may appear to the reader some discrepancy 
aad inconsistency in the accounts that have been 
given of Dr. Buckminster's feelings at different times 
with regard to his own religious views. It may ap- 
pear somewhat surprising, that, after being acquainted 
with so much diversity of opinion in the Piscataqua 
Association, he should have regarded his son's devia- 
tion from orthodox views with so much surprise and 
displeasure ; and again, that, at a later period, he 
should have looked upon Mr. Parker's settlement with 
so much leniency, if not complacency. It must be 
remembered that it was only upon two points that his 
son's heresy excited surprise : the denial of the Trin- 
ity, the assertion of the inferiority of the Son to the 
Father, and, consequently, an inadequate atonement 
for sin. In his father's words, — ' He did not be- 
lieve the proper Deity and Divinity of Christ, nor his 
vicarous satisfaction and atonement for the sins of 

It does not appear, and I believe it is a fact, that 
there was no denial of the Trinity in the Piscataqua 
Association before the introduction of Mr. Parker into 
its number. If there had been, his settlement would 
not have been discussed and opposed as it was, by 
some members of the Association. It was also Mr. 
Parker's noble personal character, his unusual talents 
and graces as a minister, that won Dr. Buckminster's 
warmest esteem and friendship before he was settled 
in the South Parish in Portsmouth. Dr. Buckmin- 
ster, not wishing to oppose his settlement, and being 
too conscientious to take a part in it, embraced the 

364 dr. bitckminster's religious impressions. 

excuse that the failing health of one of his daughters 
presented, to take a journey, and absent himself from 
the ordination. 

Although always a sincere follower of Calvin, his 
religious views were greatly modified by the state of 
his health. When he was struggling with nervous 
depression, his religious feelings were deepened into 
gloomy views of sin, and of the depravity of the 
heart, and the un worthiness of man. 

At the time his son was beginning to preach, the 
life of his beloved wife was just drawing to a close, 
and his spirits were greatly depressed ; while, on the 
contrary, Mr. Parker's settlement took place at a pe- 
riod in Dr. Buckminster's life when he enjoyed an 
unusual degree of health and freedom from depres- 
sion. Such a result of nervous hypochondria is not 
at all unusual. The writer is intimately acquainted 
with the case of a lady, who is subject to seasons of 
great nervous depression. When she is in good 
health, she is a decided Unitarian ; but as soon as her 
disease returns, she is overwhelmed with the fears 
and the gloom of Calvinism. 

Soon after my brother's return from Europe, he had 
undertaken the task of housekeeping by himself. He 
had found inconveniences in boarding, and the parish, 
with their usual liberality, had, while he was absent, 
added a new story, and thoroughly repaired the par- 
sonage-house. He furnished his rooms with a fru- 
gality little in accordance with the splendor of his 
library. He grudged every expense that was not 
devoted to the inside or the outside of a book : the 
latter, indeed, bore no proportion to the former. He 


spent little in elegant bindings, although he depre- 
cated the avarice which should diminish the mere 
luxury of literature. He soon found that his experi- 
ment of housekeeping involved him in petty cares 
and vexatious troubles, which none but the feebler 
sex can bear with exemplary patience. His incessant 
occupation, his nightly protracted studies, and the 
precarious state of his health, caused his friends to 
regard him with trembling interest, and excited the 
most lively anxiety in his father, till he at length 
yielded to the incessant solicitations of the brother, 
and consented that his eldest sister should join him 
in Boston, and take the place of the head of his fam- 
ily. He hoped that having a sister with him would 
insensibly lead him to relaxation from his midnight 
studies, and induce him to give more time to social 
and domestic pleasures. 

The reluctance of Dr. Buckminster to allow his 
daughters to leave the retirement of home has been 
already mentioned. He deprecated for them the for- 
mation of a taste for luxury, and for the elegances of 
life, which he feared would make them less happy in 
the humble and simple home in which they had been 
born, and in which, as he thought, they were des- 
tined to live. It was also at no little sacrifice of 
daily joy and comfort, that he consented to the ab- 
sence of his eldest daughter from his own home. 
She was necessary to both father and brother. Could 
she have divided her disinterested care, as she did her 
affections, between them, there would have been 
enough for both ; but whoever had once had the 
happiness of her presence in domestic life, could but 
reluctantly consent to part with her again.' She 




brought with her into a house the spirit of order and 
perfect arrangement. Cheerfulness and tranquil con- 
tentment entered with gentle footsteps, like minister- 
ing spirits, and gladdened the roof under which she 
dwelt ; and when she departed from it the sunlight of 
quiet happiness went with her. 

' Not learned, save in gracious household ways ; 
No angel, but a dearer being, all dipped 
In angel instincts, breathing Paradise ; 
Interpreter between the gods and men ; 
And looked all native to her place.' 

A short extract from one of her letters will show, 
that, if her brother's house was a scene of more varied 
and more intellectual pleasures, the one she left was 
not without its tranquil happiness. 

' Our family have never been so well as at present. My 
father is in good health and fine spirits. He is to preach 
the sermon before the Female Asylum, at Newbury port, 
and also at the ordination of Mr. Thurston, at Manchester, 
and will probably make you a visit in Boston ; this last, 
however, is only a conjecture of mine, so that you must not 
rely too much upon it. The lovely M. G. has been passing 
a few davs with us, and adding; to the charms of our little 
parlor. There is no place, I believe, in the wide world, 
where more happiness is enjoyed, especially when you visit 
us. We are all in perfect health, my father in good spirits, 
with a kind parish, good, and some very agreeable, friends ; 
we are above all want, although possessing none of the 
superfluities of life ; the little children are good and improv- 
ing ; cheerfulness reigns in our house, and, I hope, gratitude 
in our hearts. Our happiness would be greater, if you could 
be with us oftener ; but we please ourselves, as soon as 
you are gone, by anticipating the next visit. With the best 


wishes that the heart can dictate, or the pen express, I am 

your affectionate sister, 

'L, M. B.' 

Of the large number of family letters that passed 
while the brother urged, and the father reluctantly 
consented to break in upon the union, and divide the 
members of his family, only two or three are insert- 
ed. The father's fears were prophetic. The family 
never met again beneath the parental roof. The 
whole number never met again in life ; and a most 
singular fatality divided them also in death. Of Dr. 
Buckminster's twelve children, except some young 
infants, who are buried in Portsmouth, only two rest 
together, — Joseph and his eldest sister repose beneath 
the shades of Mount Auburn. The graves of the 
others are scattered over New England. 

The old parsonage-house, in Portsmouth, with noth- 
ing attractive in its exterior, with no architectural 
beauty, small and inconvenient in its rooms, dark and 
shaded in its aspect, is yet filled with touching memo- 
ries. Its low-roofed rooms are yet eloquent to one 
heart. Every beam has witnessed the prayers of the 
father. Angel faces look back, sweet, youthful voices 
echo through its silent rooms, and every beloved 
name is covered with the flowers of memory. The 
thousand silken ties that bind families together in 
their youth are like the gossamer webs which lie so 
thick upon the grass in a summer's morning ; — they 
must be steeped in the dew of tears before they are 
perceived in all their rainbow colors. 

1 January, 1808. 

4 My dear Father, — Though I have often had the 
pleasure of hearing about you, I really cannot recollect 


when I last received a letter from you. Mr. Emerson 
has told me that he found you well, both in body and mind. 
Being absent, I hear of your estate ; and under the terms of 
mind, body, and estate, is comprehended, in the English 
liturgy, all for which we can pray when we remember our 
friends at the Throne of Grace. In the last two of these, I 
am, by God's blessing, sufficiently prosperous ; at least, my 
health is as good as I can expect, and my estate far better 
than I deserve. As to my mind, I doubt not you pray that 
it may be seasoned with grace and knowledge ; I hope your 
prayers will be heard. 

' As to the subject of my being married, I go so little 
into the company of young people, that I hardly think of it. 
I must be allowed to wait till something offers that attracts 
me spontaneously, and that is truly eligible. I shall never 
set out coolly in the pursuit of a wife. My present situation 
I believe not injurious to my ministerial character. If I am 
deficient in some of the private sympathies of a pastor, I 
hope I shall be enabled to make amends as a public in- 

4 Do not leave me without hope of the presence and 
solace of one of my sisters. Think, my dear sir, how 
solitary you would feel could you not hear the voices of 
your children, and the echo of footsteps beside your own. 
Spare me one of my sisters.' 

' February, 1808. 

' My dear Father, — You are unwilling that either of 
my sisters should make my house her residence. If I could 
perceive the shadow of an objection, or that it could be in 
any way injurious to them or to me, I would not urge it. 
But really I know not the shadow of an objection upon the 
score of delicacy or advantage. One of them would be 
extremely*useful to me, and agreeable to my friends. I sin- 
cerely hope that no fancied prospect of my being more 
easily led to change my condition, in consequence of being 
left alone, will have any operation upon your decision. 


* E. would be a great addition to my comfort; let her 
come up with L., and in a few weeks one may return, and 
the other will be less uneasy at being left alone. On the 
score of expense there is no objection. I do not find that 
the addition of one or two makes any difference. I cannot 
do without one or the other of them. I chatter like a 
swallow, and mourn like a dove upon the housetops 

4 I find the labors of my profession do not diminish with 
time. I ought not to expect they should. If I should be 
blessed as the means of doing any good, I shall cheerfully 
submit to the dispensations of Providence, if they should 
even compel me to give up my profession for ever. I trust 
I am prepared for any result of my malady. 

1 I send herewith ten copies of a little devotional work, 
which I have just had published. If you know any young 
men, to whom it will be likely to be profitable, I hope you 
will dispose of them. Yours, 

<J. S. B.' 

To which his father answered : — 

1 My dear Son, — I pity your lonely state, but I think 
you had much better ' lead about ' a wife than a sister. 
It is not my own interest or necessities that form the 
ground of my objection to your sisters' residing with you ; 
it is the dread of their being allured from the retirement 
and the regular habits of their father's house into circles that 
afford food for their literary and worldly ambition, of which 
they have a full share ; and this, I fear, will disqualify them 
for that sphere where alone I would wish them to shine, and 
give them a distaste for those enjoyments without which it 
had been better for us never to have been born. God has 
blessed me with amiable and respectful children, but I have 
no evidence that they have, any of them, so heard and 
learned of the Father that they have come to Christ. I 
hope God has much happiness in store for them ; but it 
will never be found in worldly pleasures, or ambitious 

370 music. 

pursuits. But I must yield to your request. One of your 
sisters shall go and spend some weeks with you, and there 
is no gallant they would prefer to their brother, whenever 
it is convenient for you to come for them.' 

To persons of different religious views from Dr. 
Buckminster, it may appear surprising, that, in answer 
to the very letter in which his son expresses such 
entire acquiescence in the will of Providence, as to 
feel himself ready to submit to any, to the most ap- 
palling, consequences of his malady, his father should 
have answered, that ' he had no evidence that any of 
his children had so learned of the Father as to come 
to Christ. ' Certainly his son had come to the spirit 
of Christ ; and where else had he gained that re- 
ligious submission which made him willing to give 
up his ministry, his studies, the objects of his dear- 
est wishes and his fondest hopes, if it should please 
his Father in heaven to lay such a burden of afflic- 
tion upon him ? It was not stupidity, for he had 
the keenest perception of the consequences of his 
malady. Certainly it was not a proof of an unholy 
ambition to be willing", if it so pleased the Giver of 
his gifts, to descend from the beautiful aspirations of 
genius and wisdom to the lowest state in the con- 
dition of intellect. 

As soon as my brother had obtained the permanent 
presence of a sister,* as an inmate of his house, his 
friends remarked the increase of his cheerfulness, his 
freedom from care, and the entire confidence with 
which he reposed upon her love and faithfulness. 
This added a charm to his bachelor's parsonage, 

# Afterwards the wife of Professor John Farrar, of Cambridge. 


increased his acquaintance with the younger members 
of his parish, and his house soon became the hos- 
pitable rendezvous of his friends from Portsmouth. 
Music was still his chief recreation ; and, after his 
sister was with him, he no sooner heard of a dis- 
tinguished female voice than he became impatient 
till he could persuade the possessor of such a treasure 
to consent to come and accompany him at the organ ; 
for this purpose, the instrument was removed to his 
sister's parlor, and the reunions there were among the 
most delightful in Boston. 

The gentlemen of his parish, and others of his 
friends, had long been in the habit of collecting on 
Sunday evenings in his study. He was the centre 
of a little circle, from whom he received as much as 
he gave. There is no evening in the week when a 
clergyman feels so much at his ease, and so ready to 
enjoy social pleasures, as after the labors of that day 
are over. The Sabbath has been no day of rest to 
him, but, if his heart is in his profession, it is one of 
keen enjoyment. He has finished the work of the 
week, and there is a pause till the next day. The 
sermons upon which he has spent so much anxious 
thought, every other day of the week, have been 
preached ; they are off his mind, and it rises with 
elasticity from the pressure. He has looked down, 
too, through the day, upon the attentive and thought- 
ful faces of attached friends ; they have encouraged 
and strengthened him by their respectful attention 
to his gravest counsels, and now he can listen and 
learn from them, in the hours of mutual and equal 

There were a few gentlemen who scarcely ever 


omitted a Sunday evening's visit. Among those who 
honored him the most frequently with their presence 
were the Hon. Samuel Dexter, Judge Parker and 
Judge Hall, James Savage, William Wells, etc. Their 
host thought their conversation sufficiently interest- 
ing, on one of these evenings, to preserve notes of 
it in his journal. 

' February. Sunday evening. There was much inter- 
esting conversation on the natural probability of the future 
existence of man. " Why," says Mr. Dexter, " may not 
death be merely a crisis in one's existence ? Analogy in 
the chrysalis, etc., — reproduction of plants annually." 
Objection : They are not the same plants, but a succession 
of different individuals. Perennials, which die and revive 

not again, are a counter analogy. Quare, from , about 

consciousness, whether it is necessary to constitute personal 
identity ? It cannot be. Is it, then, a sufficient argument 
to encourage us to virtue, that we are promoting the hap- 
piness of a being which shall have no consciousness of 
what has been done here ? " Why may it not be said," 

remarked , " if consciousness do not constitute identity, 

that, by behaving well here, you are adding one to the list 
of happy beings hereafter, but one who is no more yourself 
than Alexander ? " 

' Mr. . " Is not the mode in which men learn to 

admire the works of the great masters, Raphael, Michael 
Angelo, precisely similar to the mode in which the pathetic 
affections must be generated ? By continual study to gene- 
rate these feelings, and by familiar and uninterrupted 
acquaintance, lest the taste acquired be lost by other pur- 
suits ? The religious affections, when in their highest state, 
are delicate and retired, like the internal admiration of an 

artist for a wonderful work." Mr. . " Sir Joshua 

Reynolds says, if you relish not Homer and Virgil, read 


them till you do, and do not suspect the whole world has 
been deceived in their admiration." 

' Mr. . " Why was not Jesus married, to set us an 

example of the duties of that state ? " Answer. It would 
have been inconsistent with the nature of his life and mis- 
sion. Mr. D. " Was the recommendation of celibacy in 

the Church from his example ? " Mr. related the 

speech of Lord Chatham upon the subject of the king's 
speech, — an admirable imitation. Mr. D. expatiated upon 
the character of Washington, and told anecdotes of his 
reserve and dulness in conversation, and asked whether 
invention be a faculty necessary to constitute a great man. 

4 Mr. asked, " Is there any connection between 

different views of religion and the state of the affections ? " 

" Is there, in fact," said , " any difference, except in 

degree, between the moral characters of men who are 
accounted religious ? " This is the most difficult question 
in religion. What is the nature of true virtue ? " How 
strange it is," said D., "that the first principles in morals 
should be so obscure ! " Is there any real difference in kind 
between the religion of Dr. Doddridge and Dr. Lardner, for 
instance? or does the difference result from natural temper- 
ament? The question is not to be determined by particular 
examples, perhaps, but by a general comparison of religious 
men of all persuasions. The poetry of Watts and Doddridge 
is most fervent ; did this in any degree depend upon their 
views of doctrine, or on natural temperament ? ' 

As this was the period of my brother's short life, 
during which he enjoyed the greatest vigor of body 
and perhaps the most effective energy of mind, I am 
happy to be permitted to add the testimony of a 
friend,* then young and enthusiastic, indeed, who 
visited him at this time. 

# Rev. Dr. Sprague, of Albany. 


4 My recollections of Mr. Buckminster are exceedingly 
vivid, as well as somewhat minute ; for they are among 
the most cherished recollections of my whole life ; but then 
you must bear in mind, that, when I knew him, I was but a 
boy of fifteen, and I never saw him except for the few days 
which I then spent in his family. I will tell you literally 
every thing that I can remember concerning him 

' About this time, Mr. Abbot, of Coventry, Conn., whose 
pupil I was, in consequence of having declared himself a 
Unitarian, was arraigned by the Consociation of Tolland 
county for heresy, and dismissed from his charge, and, as 
the phrase then was, " silenced." He, however, refused to 
acknowledge the jurisdiction of the body that tried him, and 
continued some time, by request of the parish, to officiate 
as usual. The parish and himself agreed to call another 
council, to whose adjudication the existing difficulties should 
be referred ; and this council consisted chiefly of clergymen 
from Boston and the vicinity. Mr. Abbot, I think, more to 
gratify me than for any thing else, proposed to me to go to 
Boston and carry the letters missive 

' It was by no means among the least important of the 
circumstances which I anticipated in connection with my 
journey, that it would give me the opportunity of seeing 
Mr. Buckminster ; for besides hearing Mr. Abbot talk of 
him in terms of unmeasured praise, I had read his sermon 
on Governor Sullivan over and over, with the greatest admi- 
ration, so that I could repeat large portions of it. Mr. Abbot 
gave me a letter to him, and directed me to call upon him 
•immediately on my arrival in Boston. Accordingly, on 
reaching Boston, I found my way to the Brattle Street Church 
parsonage, and was met at the door by a gentleman, dressed 
in a sort of gray frock-coat,* with whose appearance I was 

* This was a half-military frock-coat of iron gray, which he had 
made to travel in during his journey on the Continent, at a time when 
the military costume alone commanded respect. After his return, the 


exceedingly struck, of whom I inquired if Mr. Buckminster 
was at home. He said yes, and asked me to walk in. 
After conversing with him for some time, and not dreaming 
that he was Mr. Buckminster, and yet wondering what more 
Mr. Buckminster could be, I asked him if I was right in 
supposing him to say that Mr. Buckminster was at home. 
" O, yes," he replied, " I am he." I then gave him my 
letter, which he read ; and, after making an inquiry or two 
concerning Mr. Abbot, he told me that I must come and 
stay with him while I remained in Boston. I asked him to 
excuse me, though for no other reason than that I feared it 
would be indelicate for me to accept the invitation. He 
said he should not excuse me, and that I must stay and make 
him a visit ; that he would show me the town, etc. The 
short of it was, that he insisted upon sending for my luggage, 
and I stayed in his house, in all, nearly a week. 

8 One of the first things he did was to accompany me 
to see Dr. Lathrop, to whom I had a letter (missive) from 
Mr. Abbot. The old gentleman came out of his study, 
wearing an immense gown, and said that he was busy, 
writing Dr. Eckley's funeral sermon, but found it very 

difficult to get into his subject I think it was upon 

leaving Dr. Lathrop's that he took me to the top of the 
Exchange, which, he said, commanded the best view of the 
town ; and then he pointed out to me various interesting 
objects, of which I had often heard, but which I saw then 
for the first time. He wished me to feel entirely at home, 
and to stay with him in his study whenever it was pleasant 
to me ; and I assure you that it was so pleasant to me, that 
I was little disposed to be any where else. I had from my 
childhood a passion for reading eloquent sermons, and es- 
pecially for gathering pamphlets ; and, having found in a 
corner of his study a quantity of pamphlets stowed away, 

embroidery was taken off the collar, and it served him as a study 
coat for several years. 


I set myself to examining them. When he saw what I was 
about, he laughed a little at what he thought my odd taste, 
but told me to keep at it and to select from the mass for 
myself whatever I cared for ; and I actually took him at 
his word, and selected enough to make a large bundle, 

' Of course, my most important day with him was Sunday. 
I went with him to church in the morning, and heard him 
preach and administer the communion. The subject of 
his discourse was baptism. It was, so far as I remember, 
entirely of a didactic character. I have an idea that it 
was not among his most eloquent productions ; and yet 
every thing that he said operated upon me like a charm. 
The tones of his voice have not ceased to vibrate upon my 
ears to this day ; and I often try to render my impressions 
of them more vivid, by an attempt to imitate them. I do 
not remember that there was much passion evinced in his 
manner, but there was a calm dignity, an inimitable grace- 
fulness of attitude and gesture, a countenance radiant with 
intelligence and benevolence, and, above all, an impressive 
solemnity that spoke of the reality and the depth of his con- 
victions, such as I do not remember ever to have witnessed 
in the same admirable combination. I recollect that he 
prayed with his eyes open, elevated at an angle of about 
forty-five degrees, and perfectly fixed. I had never seen 
the same thing before, and it was then, as it is still, a 
matter of wonder how he could do it. In the afternoon, 
he preached a sermon with some reference to the death 
of Dr. Eckley, which he wrote while I was with him in his 
study, but which I did not hear him preach : I heard Dr. 
Griffin at Park Street. 

4 After the second service, he appeared greatly exhaust- 
ed. .... . 

1 In the evening, Mr. William W 7 ells, and some other 
gentlemen whose names I do not recollect, came and passed 
an hour or two in his study, and he took his full share in the 


'Though I remained several days with him at this time, 
he told me that I must be sure and come and see him ao-ain 
on my return from Beverly, and some other places which 
I had occasion to visit. I assure you I needed nothing 
more than an invitation to bring me back to him ; and when 
I came back, he greeted me with as much affection as if he 
had been my father. On the morning that I finally left 
him, he handed me a little note, which he asked me to 
deliver at Mr. Wells's bookstore, containing a request that 
he would give me, on his account, a copy of " Griesbach's 
New Testament," which he had then just edited, and of 
" Walker's Key, etc.," the latter of which, he said, was 
designed to aid me in attaining a correct pronunciation. 
Unfortunately, my old horse was so loaded down with 
other treasures that he had given me, particularly in the 
way of pamphlets, that I was obliged to leave these more 
valuable books behind ; and alas ! they were sold with his 
library.' * 

The same writer adds : — 

1 It might seem like affectation if I were to tell you how 
much his death affected me ; or, indeed, if I were to tell 
you with what warmth and depth of affection I have cher- 
ished his memory ever since. I think of him always as 
the most lovely, the most beautiful, the most exalted form 
of humanity. I have met with many persons who cherish 
a grateful and exalted impression both of his gifts and his 
virtues ; but, strange as you may think it, I have never met 
with one who seemed to love and venerate his memory as 
I do myself. I confess that it is to myself somewhat of 
a mystery. Doubtless something must be allowed for the 
influence of a young imagination, and for some other 

* The Greek Testament was finally recovered. It was bought at 
the sale of Mr. Buckminster's library, by Rev. Mr. Huntington, and 
cheerfully relinquished at the request of Mr. Everett. 



peculiar circumstances attending my visit, which I have 
not mentioned ; but, however it may be accounted for, 
certain it is, that, to this day, there is scarcely a name 
among the dead that is embalmed in my heart amidst such 
warm and grateful recollections as the name of Buck- 
minster. I have never hesitated to bear this testimony to 
his exalted character, though his religious views, I suppose, 
were materially different from my own. His published 
sermons, however, contain little to which Christians of any 
denomination would find occasion to object. I have in my 
mind, at this moment, two or three of the greatest lights of 
the " orthodox " pulpit, who have pronounced his sermons 
quite unrivalled in that department of composition.* Robert 
Southey spoke of them to me as decidedly among the finest 
in the language.' 

To the above I have the privilege of adding an 
extract from the diary of the Rev. Dr. Pierce, of 
Brookline, written at the time of my brother's death, 
and expressing the prevalent feeling of the commu- 
nity. After speaking of his return from Europe, Dr. 
Pierce goes on to say : — 

' His study became the resort of the first scholars among 
us ; and his company was equally sought by people of 
fashion, of literature, and of religion. Every society, 
whether for science, humanity, or religion, was desirous 
of enrolling him among its members. He was a member 
of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of the 
Historical Society, of the Humane Society, of the Massa- 
chusetts Charitable Fire Society, of the Christian Monitor 
Society, and Corresponding Secretary of the Bible Society 
of Massachusetts. He preached an acceptable sermon before 

# ' The gentlemen referred to are Dr. Samuel Stanhope Smith, of 
Princeton, Dr. Inglis, of Baltimore, and Dr. Komaine, of New York.' 


the Female Asylum, which he declined to publish. The 
last sermon that he wrote he delivered before the Christian 
Monitor Society.* 

4 He was principally instrumental in inducing the Rev. 
Noah Worcester to forsake the retirement he loved, and 
come into the vicinity of Boston and Cambridge, where he 
ceased not but with life to cooperate with the friends of 
peace and of liberal Christianity. 

1 Mr. Buckminster was rather below ihe common size, 
muscular, and well proportioned. His countenance was 
extremely expressive, lighted up with eyes irresistibly 
fascinating. His manners were highly polished, but per- 
haps no person was ever farther removed from flattery. 
On the other hand, he was exceedingly open-hearted, and 
often told people truths which would hardly have been 
tolerated from any other person. He was the delight of 
the ladies ; but never did he procure their favor by studied 
attentions, and perhaps no lady ever suspected herself to 
be the object of them. In small circles, he was usually 
sociable ; but sometimes he would appear absent in com- 
pany, probably from the circumstance that he had not 
completely relaxed his mind from the last pursuit in which 
he was engaged. 

1 His brethren of the Boston Association will long re- 
member the pleasure and instruction which he never failed 
to impart to their circle ; with what readiness he entered 
into their sympathies ; what light he cast upon their most 
perplexing topics ; and what assistance he afforded in their 
most embarrassing situations. 

4 In the pulpit, Mr. Buckminster ranked among the very 
first preachers which this or any other country has produced. 
His sermons were written in a style, simple, nervous, per- 

* He was also an honorary member of the New York Historical 
Society, an officer of the Society just created for the Improvement of 
Seamen, and, at the time of his death, one of the School Committee 
of Boston. 


spicuous, adorned with captivating figures. It was impossible 
to withhold attention from him. He seemed to have a per- 
fect command of his audience, and, as occasion required, 
he could at once excite all the lively emotions of the soul. 
His peculiar excellence consisted in portraying characters. 
Hence some of his most acceptable sermons have been 
those which treated of the characters of Peter, of Paul, of 
Philemon, and of Christ. He had the faculty, as a preacher, 
of interesting those who would be interested in the services 
of no other man. Under his preaching, it is believed that 
many have been induced to attend to the subject of religion 
in earnest, who might otherwise have been slumbering in 
indifference. 1 * 

The venerable clergyman mentioned in the letter 
of Dr. Sprague, now living at the age of eighty,! 
writes thus : — 

' No person could become acquainted with Mr. Buck- 
minster without loving him. He was a perfect man. On 
seeing him once, his image could not be blotted from the 
mind. I am greatly indebted to his kindness. When 
feeling obliged, by my situation, to give the Trinitarian 
hypothesis a thorough examination, I wrote to Dr. Kirkland, 
requesting him to purchase for me the best treatises on the 
Trinitarian, Arian, and Socinian hypotheses. He sent in 
the package a number of books from Mr. Buckminster, 
having his name in them. When the consociation was con- 
voked at Coventry, I wrote to him, requesting his advice. 
Afterwards, at Boston, he introduced me to his brethren. 
When I asked him if he would be one of a mutual council, 
if one was called, he advised me to invite older men than 

# From the diary of Rev. John Pierce, D. D., June, 1812. 
t Rev. Abiel Abbot, D. D., now of Peterborough, N. H. 


The answer to the letter referred to in the last 
extract is here introduced : - — 

'Boston, Jan. 12th, 1811. 

'My dear Sir, — I have delayed writing to you till the 
present time for several reasons ; the principal of which 
was, however, that I might be able to write more positively 
on the subject about which you are most interested. It 
appears to me, that, if you are compelled to call an ex parte 
council, it should be composed of the most grave and ex- 
perienced men you can procure. I presume, from what 
you have before said, that Dr. Dana and Dr. Lee could 
be obtained from Connecticut, and these, united with Drs. 
Reed and Sanger, of Bridge water, Kendall, of Weston, 
Bancroft, of Worcester, etc., and, perhaps, one or two 
more from this town, would compose a sufficiently large 
and respectable assembly. I find that Dr. Pierce, of Brook- 
line, absolutely declines, and so, I fear, would Mr. Channing. 
In speaking with the latter on the subject, his impressions 
seemed to be that it was not proper to send to ministers so 
young, or of so short standing in the Church, as himself. 

4 If a vote of censure, or of excommunication, should pass 
against you in the consociation, I presume you will continue 
to preach and minister to those who still choose to attend 
upon your ministry in Coventry. This, I think, is due to 
their attachment to you. If any part of the Church remain 
with you, I see not what you will gain by the calling of an 
ex parte council, except it be the form of a regular minis- 
terial character, and you can best tell whether that is of 
much consequence in the minds of your friends in Coventry. 
If the council should be thought important, perhaps it is not 
immediately necessary, and might be deferred till the season 
is milder. I wish, that, if a council is called, it should be 
very respectable, and that, to the names already mentioned, 
Dr. Osgood's might be added : but nothing, I fear, would 
persuade him to leave home in winter. 

4 1 am faithfully yours, 

4 J. S. B. 


' P. S. If you wish to print any statement of facts, I will 
take care to get it done without expense to you.' 

It has been already mentioned by Dr. Pierce, that 
Mr. Buckminster was principally instrumental in in- 
ducing the venerable Noah Worcester to come to the 
vicinity of Boston. The writer well remembers the 
surprise and enthusiasm which her brother expressed 
at the first appearance of l Bible News,' and the 
sanguine hope he felt that it would aid the cause of 
free inquiry, and ultimately of truth. When its 
author first visited Boston, he was the welcome guest 
of his young friend at the parsonage, and both Joseph 
and his sister were charmed by the patriarchal sim- 
plicity, the genuine and fascinating urbanity and 
good sense, of their guest. My brother died before 
Dr. Worcester could remove to the vicinity of Boston ; 
and it has been remarked to the writer, by a near 
relative, that he was overwhelmed with grief at the 
death of his young friend, and felt that much of the 
happiness he expected from his change of residence 
was gone. 

The venerable author of one of the last extracts 
speaks of the general character of his attentions to 
the other sex, and the interest with which he was 
regarded by them. Although, in God's providence, 
he was never permitted to form those intimate ties 
which are so necessary to hearts fitted, as was his, 
to feel every tender emotion, yet, had he lived to 
reach middle age, surely to him would have been 
opened that fairest page in the book of life, when 
every duty and every care would have been lightened, 
and < the face of nature made radiant with the light 


of love.' No one can have read his sermon on ' The 
Influence of Christianity upon the Character of the 
Female Sex,' and the sentiments scattered every 
where in his writings, and not feel that he had the 
most generous, the most impartial, and the most true 
appreciation of the nature of women ; no one can 
have remarked the frequent pathos of his expressions, 
when speaking of the sorrows of human hearts, and 
not feel that they were derived from real sensibility. 
A passage from a letter to a young person, upon her 
intended marriage, shows how fully he understood 
what must enter into the union to form a happy 

'My dear : — I have long wished to find time for 

writing you a letter, more valuable than mine usually are, 
upon a subject extremely interesting to you and therefore 

to your friend. Mr. has impressed me in the most 

favorable manner, and, for what I have not seen, I am 
willing to take your word. But, my dear friend, if I had 
not every reason to coincide with you in opinion of him, 
to whom you have given the rich treasure of your love, I 
should yet say, that a sincere and pious affection on both 
sides is a sufficient ground for hopeful confidence in this 
union. Time will form two pure and amiable souls for 
each other, and religious principle, under the smiles of 
Heaven, even in cases where superficial observers may not 
see any peculiar coincidence of character, will mould your 
dispositions into an harmonious and ever-increasing unity 
of feeling. As you learn each other's tastes, views, and 
principles, the love and fear of God, mingling with your 
hopes for earth, will blend into a beautiful harmony for 

4 You have been tutored in one of the best schools in the 
world, and under the best religious influences. If you 


should be married, the sphere of your cares and duties will 
hardly be enlarged, though the sources of your happiness 
will be multiplied. You will not indulge, I know, in great 
expectations from the world and its pleasures, wherever you 
may live ; yet, as your chiefest joy will be in your family, 
and in seeing those under your influence blessed by your 
example, you may expect much happiness without being 
disappointed. May God bless you, my dear friend, and 
bring you nearer to me, to increase my social blessings, 
and to improve, by your example, the often feeble virtues 
of your friend, 

< J. S. B.' 

An extract from one of his sermons is given, to 
show that he fully appreciated the character of 
woman. He is addressing the Managers of the 
Female Asylum for Orphan Children : — 

' Accustomed more to retirement than to active life, you 
have more leisure, and consequent disposition, for religious 
contemplations. It is also infinitely honorable to your char- 
acter that you ever feel a secret sympathy with a religion 
which unlocks all the sources of benevolent affection, which 
smiles on every exercise of compassion and every act of 
kindness. We may say, too, that your hearts, not hardened 
by the possession of power, the pains of avarice, or the 
emulations of public life, are more alive to the accents of 
pardon by Jesus Christ, more awake to the glories of the 
invisible world. The Gospel came to throw a charm over 
domestic life, and, in retirement, the first objects that it 
found were mothers and their children. It came to bind up 
the broken-hearted, and, for that office, woman was always 
best prepared. It came to heal the sick, and woman was 
already waiting at their couches. It came to open the gates 
of life upon the languid eye of the dying penitent, and 
woman was every where to be seen, softly tending at the 
pillow, and closing the eyes of the departing 


1 1 believe, that, if Christianity should be compelled to 
flee from the mansions of the great, the academies of 
philosophers, the halls of legislation, or the throng of busy- 
men, we should find her last and purest retreat with woman, 
at the fireside ; her last altar would be the female heart ; 
her last audience would be the children gathered round the 
knees of a mother ; her last sacrifice, the secret prayer 
escaping in silence from her lips, and heard only at the 
throne of God.' 

With such appreciation of the tenderness of woman, 
we must regret that he lived unmarried ; but, during 
a part of his short life, he was not unaccompanied by 
the truest, the most faithful and single-hearted affec- 
tion. The sister, who was so fortunate as to be his 
guardian, watched over him with more than a sister's 
love. In the attacks of his malady by night, hers 
was like the instinctive vigilance of a mother ; the 
wing of the night-moth was sufficient to wake her, 
and bring her, like the mother, to the couch of her 
sleeping treasure. 

' But let him grieve, who cannot choose but grieve, 
That he hath been an elm without his vine, 
And her bright dower of clustering charities, 
That round his trunk and branches might have clung 
Enriching and adorning. Unto thee, 
Not so enriched, not so adorned, to thee 
Was given a sister, 

In whom thy reason and intelligent heart 
Found — for all interests, hopes, and tender cares, 
All softening, humanizing, hallowing powers — 
More than sufficient recompense.' * 

# Wordsworth. 





1809. The chapter begins with an extract from 

Aged 25. the journal of this year. 

1 January 2d. A new year has begun. Tn looking back 
upon the events of my life the last year, I perceive little or 
no improvement. Sure I am that my stock of theological 
knowledge has not been increased, though I have reason 
to hope that my sermons for the last year have not been 
inferior to any preceding ones. In the trials to which God 
has exposed me, I endeavor to discern the designs of his 
providence. The disorder to which I am still subjected 
ought to be to me a perpetual lesson of humility and depend- 
ence. I have sometimes thought, that, if our powers and 
state of mind in another world depend at all upon the 
condition of the intellect when we leave this, I should 
prefer to die before my mind shall be debilitated by this 
disorder. May this consideration, with others, tend to keep 
me in a state of perpetual willingness and readiness to 

1 My greatest trial the past year has been the attack upon 
my selection of hymns for the use of Brattle Street Church. 
I cannot but think it insidious and impertinent. If I have 
indulged in any improper feelings towards "the supposed 
author, I pray God to forgive me. At least, I hope they do 
not appear in my reply. I have hitherto refrained, and 


shall refrain, from reading the author's rejoinder, because, 
since my friends tell me there is nothing in it requiring a 
reply, I know not why I should put my tranquillity to the 
test which the perusal would occasion. As to the principal 
and most important charge in the review, of undeclared 
alterations, I can put down here what it was not necessary 
to tell the public, that I did not know of them till they were 
pointed out to me by the reviewer. I took the hymns, 
without any alteration of my own, from the collection of 
Dr. Kippis.* 

4 1 fear that the state of my affections has not been im- 
proved the last year; yet* I hope I have learned some 
humility from the public and the secret opposition which 
has been made to me as a minister. May God make my 
motives pure and simple, and give me, this year, which is 
now beginning, a deeper interest in the religious state of my 
parish, and less concern for my own reputation.' 

In January of this year, was published the first 
sermon which he ever gave to the press. It was oc- 
casioned by the death of His Excellency, James Sul- 
livan. Governor Sullivan had been one of the most 
constant and zealous of his friends. He was chair- 
man of the Brattle Street Parish Committee, and all 
his intercourse with his pastor had been marked by 
the most courteous, considerate, and affectionate 

In this connection is introduced a letter to Governor 
Sullivan, upon the subject of duelling. The cor- 
respondence arose from an animated conversation at 
the table of the Governor, in which the subject was 
discussed and defended. 

# The reference is to a review in the ' Panoplist.' 


1 Mr dear Sir, — I know not whether you expected a 
reply to the letter with which you favored me yesterday 
morning ; but, upon reading it, I am strongly tempted to 
put down a few thoughts on paper, and should have done 
it yesterday, but all my time was taken up in preparation 
for to-day. By sending these lines, however, I have no 
intention of drawing you into a troublesome discussion of 
the question of duelling. 

' I thank you for your explanation of what I uttered, 
perhaps, too hastily, — that I would knock a man down 
who should insult me in the street. How far it would be 
consistent with the spirit of a Christian I dare not say; but, 
at any rate, I meant only to express the probable effect of 
strong passion, irresistibly excited in a mind so imperfectly 
regulated as my own. I do not think, however, that this 
affords any parallel to the revenge taken in a duel, because 
the first is done in sudden passion, the last in cool blood. 

' Allow me, also, though I am sensible of my ignorance 
of law, to question whether the cases you have stated, 
where murder in defence of one's reputation is softened 
by our laws into homicide, are paraUel to that of the 
duellist, who deliberately kills a man out of regard to his 
own reputation. Though it is permitted to kill an adulterer, 
the act is justified, I conceive, not because it is done out of 
regard to reputation, but because it is a provocation which 

excites immediate passionate resentment The case 

is the same with a woman who kills another in defence of 
her chastity. There is an additional reason, too, in this 
last instance, to justify the murder, and that is, that, if she 
had it in her power, and did not kill the man, she never 
could prove to the world that she did not in some measure 
consent to the act. In the other instances which you 
adduce, when a man is killed in the act of breaking into 
your house in the night, or of taking your purse on the 
highway in the dark, the murder is palliated, not because 
it is committed in defence of your property ; for if this 


were the reason, it would be equally justifiable to kill the 
one in the day-time, and the other when he offered no 
violence, or craftily picked your pocket in the day-time. 

4 If duelling were any redress of the supposed injury, 
(which it plainly is not, because the chance of being killed 
is equal to the injurer and the injured, and, even if the 
offender were always sure to fall, the other's character is 
not cleared in the sight of God or man,) yet I conceive that 
nothing can authorize us deliberately to seek satisfaction in 
the blood of a fellow-creature, in cases where we ourselves 
are the unauthorized judges of the injury received, and 
where there is no standard but our own feelings, or the 
fickle opinions of the world, by which the injury can be 
estimated. If the unauthorized laws of honor may be 
allowed to create exceptions to express commands of God, 
there is an end of all laws, human and Divine. If a man 
may redress his own wrongs by killing his neighbor, when 
he cannot appeal to the social compact for defence and 
remuneration, I see not why he may not challenge him for 
not taking off his hat to him in the street, as well as for 
insulting him more grossly. I see not why a man may not 
make his own notions of honor the standard, as well as the 
opinions of the world the umpire. 

4 My dear Sir, the only question on this subject is this : 
whether a regard for our own reputation is sufficient to 

justify us in deliberately taking the life of another 

When, after these secular reasons, I turn to the spirit of 
Christian morality, I can hardly forgive myself for proposing 
the question. Excuse the hate and inaccuracy with which 
these lines are written. I presume my remarks are already 
familiar to your own mind, and I must request your indul- 
gence for venturing to suggest them. 

4 Yours, with friendship and respect, 

4 J. S. B.' 



In July of this year was formed the Massachusetts 
Bible Society. The public were prepared for it by 
an address which appeared in the journals of the day. 
The first Corresponding Secretary of the Society 
was Joseph S. Buckminster. The address was writ- 
ten by him ; it was circulated very extensively in 
the country, and was afterwards published at some 
length, with distinguished praise, in the Report of the 
British and Foreign Bible Society. A few extracts 
from this address follow : — 

' You are invited, Christians, to lend your aid to the dis- 
tribution of the Bible. The revealed word of God is, and 
ever has been, the source of what is most valuable in human 
knowledge, most salutary in human institutions, most pure in 
human affections, comfortable in human condition, desirable 
and glorious in human expectations. Without it, man re- 
turns to a state of nature, ignorant, depraved, and helpless, 
— left without assurances of pardon, and lost to the way of 
recovery and life. It is the pearl of great price, to buy 
which the merchant in the parable sold all that he had, 
and yet was rich. Without this, wealth is poor, and the 
treasures of ancient wisdom and modern science a mass of 
inanimate knowledge 

' It was the most glorious consequence of the Reformation 
to draw forth the Book of God from the obscurity in which 
it had been kept, and, by giving translations in the vernacu- 
lar tongues, to throw open its treasures to the people, and 
thus also to secure them for ever against its future loss. It 
was the unsealing of the fountain of- life, that its waters 
might flow freely for the healing of the people. We, too, 
in New England, ought never to forget, that, to preserve 
the authority of this Book unimpaired, and to enjoy the 
privilege of. a free conscience, enlightened and emboldened 
by its truth, our forefathers crossed the ocean with little 


more than this volume in their hands, and its spirit in their 
hearts ; and if there is now in the character and circum- 
stances of their posterity any thing worth preserving, to this 
Book are we to trace the good which remains, and to look 
also for the improvement which is to come. ..... 

1 He who " came to preach the Gospel to the poor, to 
bind up the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the 
captives, and recovery of sight to the blind," when he was 
reading this very passage out of the Book of God in the 
Jewish synagogue, added, " This day is this Scripture ful- 
filled in your ears." Christians, we call on you to accomplish 
this prediction among us, by sending the Gospel, all simple 
and salutary as it is, wherever it may be wanted ; — to the 
dwellings of the poor and distressed ; to the huts of the 
distant and solitary ; to the chamber of the prisoner and 
the cell of the criminal ; and last, though not least, to the 
bedside of the old, whose eyes, dimmed with the rheum 

of age, can yet spell out its contents In short, if 

in some cases we can only prolong the pleasures of aged 
Christians by furnishing them with more legible copies of 
their favorite volume, we shall not lose our reward with 
him who cannot forget the gift of a cup of cold water in 
his name to one of his little ones 

' The influence of early instruction in the Scriptures is 
sometimes sufficient to form the destiny and give the color 
to the whole of life. It is an influence of which many 
cultivated and uncultivated minds have been conscious, 
even after they have too much relinquished the good habits 
of their childhood, and, among them, the reading of the 
Bible. The want of this Book in a rising family, where 
the parents are poor and indifferent, the children ignorant 
and rude, and left without the chance of gaining any reli- 
gious ideas, is a subject of serious thought to the philan- 
thropist, who only looks forward to the character of the 
next generation. For from these another race is to be 
propagated, and in this new country perhaps other and vast 


regions peopled. Need it be added, that the Christian 
philanthropist is obliged to follow these fearful consequences 
to another and an eternal state of existence, where it will be 
too late to instruct those we have neglected here, and where 
our charity can neither ransom nor relieve ? ' 

In August of this year, 1809, he was appointed to 
deliver the Discourse before the Society of Phi Beta 
Kappa, at Harvard College. This is always consid- 
ered a distinguished honor. It is an exhilarating 
occasion. The discourse is addressed to the aris- 
tocracy of letters in this corner of the world, with the 
talent, learning, and beauty of the neighborhood for 
an audience. He chose for his subject, ' The Dangers 
and Duties of Men of Letters.' Read now, after the 
lapse of forty years, it has all the charm and freshness 
of a composition of the day. 

Some passages of this address are as applicable to 
the state of our country now as at the time when 
they were delivered. 

L Is there a man who now hears me, who would not 
rather belong to an enlightened and virtuous community 
than to the mightiest empire of the world, distinguished 
only by its vastness ? If there is, let him cast his eye 
along the records of states. What do we know of the vast, 
unlettered empires of the East ? The far-extended con- 
quests of the Assyrian hardly detain us a moment in the 
annals of the world, while the little state of Athens will 
for ever be the delight of the historian and the pride of 
letters, — preserving, by the genius of her writers, the only 
remembrance of the barbarian powers which overwhelmed 
her. To come down to our own times : who would not 
rather have been a citizen of the free and polished republic 
of Geneva, than wander a prince in the vast dominions of 


the Czar, or bask in the beams of the present emperor of a 
desolated continent ? 

4 In the usual course of national aggrandizement, it is 
almost certain that those of you who shall attain to old age 
will find yourselves the citizens of an empire unparalleled 
in extent; but is it probable that you will have the felicity 
of belonging to a nation of men of letters ? The review 
of our past literary progress does not authorize very lofty 
expectations, neither does it leave us entirely without hope 
for the lettered honor of our country. 

1 Our poets and historians, our critics and orators, the 
men in whom posterity are to stand in awe, and by whom 
they are to be instructed, are yet to appear among us. The 
men of letters who are to direct our taste, mould our genius, 
and inspire our emulation, — the men, in fact, whose writings 
are to be the depositories of our national greatness, — have 
not yet shown themselves to the world. But, if we are not 
mistaken in the signs of the times, the genius of our litera- 
ture begins to show symptoms of vigor, and to meditate a 
bolder flight, and the generation which is to succeed us will 
be formed on better models, and leave a brighter track. 
The spirit of criticism begins to plume itself, and education, 
as it assumes a more learned form, will take a higher aim. 
If we are not misled by our hopes, the dream of ignorance 
is at least disturbed, and there are signs that the period is 
approaching in which it will be said of our country, " Tuus 
jam regnat Apollo." You, my young friends, are destined 
to witness the dawn of our Augustan age, and to contribute 
to its glory.' 

One other passage is added, upon the moral defects 
to which scholars are exposed : — 

1 The moral defects and faults of temper, to which scholars 
are exposed, are not peculiar to any country. It is every 
where the natural tendency of a life of retirement and con- 


templation to generate the notion of innocence and mora, 
security ; but men of letters should remember, that, in the 
eye of reason and Christianity, simple unprofitableness is 
always a crime. They should know, too, that there are 
solitary diseases of the imagination, not less fatal to the 
mind than the vices of society. He who pollutes his fancy 
with his books may in fact be more culpable than he who 
is seduced into the haunts of debauchery by the force of 
passion or example. He who, by his sober studies, only 
feeds his selfishness or his pride of knowledge, may be 
more to blame than the pedant or the coxcomb in literature, 
though not so ridiculous. That learning, whatever it may 
be, which lives and dies with the possessor, is more worth- 
less than his wealth which descends to his posterity ; and 
where the heart remains uncultivated and the affections 
sluggish, the mere man of curious erudition may stand 
indeed as an object of popular admiration, but he stands 
like the occasional palaces of ice in the regions of the 
north, the work of vanity, lighted up with artificial lustre, 
yet cold, useless, and uninhabited, and soon to pass away 
without leaving a trace of their existence. You, then, who 
feel yourselves sinking under the gentle pressure of sloth, or 
who seek in learned seclusion that moral security which is 
the reward only of virtuous resolution, remember, you do not 
escape from temptations, much less from responsibility, by 

retiring to the repose and silence of your libraries 

The infirmities of noble minds are often so consecrated by 
their greatness that an unconscious imitation of their pecu- 
liarities, which are real defects, may sometimes be pardoned 
in their admirers. But to copy their vices, or to hunt in 
their works for those very lines which, when dying, they 
would most wish to blot, is a different offence. I know of 
nothing in literature so unpardonable as this. He who 
poaches among the labors of the learned only to find what 
there is polluted in their language or licentious in their 
works — he who searches the biographies of men of genius 



to find precedents for his follies or palliations of his own 
stupid depravity — can be compared to nothing more ap- 
propriately than to the man who should walk through the 
gallery of antiques, and every day gaze upon the Apollo, the 
Venus, or the Laocoon, and yet bring away an imagination 
impressed with nothing but the remembrance that they were 

The whole of this address would repay, even at 
this day, a careful perusal ; and, though forty years 
have passed since it was written, the age has not 
advanced beyond its demands. It is rich in eloquent 
thought, and sparkling with gems of poetry. It must 
be recollected, that the author lived and died before 
the appearance of those magicians of our age, to 
whom we owe such treasures of delight ; before 
Scott's novels had given to history more than the 
charm of romance ; before Byron had found such 
depths of tragic element within the human heart; 
before the transcendentalism of Coleridge, and Words- 
worth, and Channing, had become familiar forms of 
speech, and Carlyle and Dickens had taught us to 
look from the ruffled and spotted plumage of society 
to the bleeding heart within. Yet truth and nature 
and' poetry were the same, and the study of them 
had been, to him, ' their own exceeding great re- 
ward.' There was nothing, even in those compo- 
sitions of his, which were written just as he emerged 
from boyhood, of morbid excess, or of repining sensi- 
bility; and yet there was that in his prospect of early 
death, or of a worse calamity, to which they might 
have been forgiven ; his habits of study, his devotion 
to truth, his entire reliance upon the paternal charac- 
ter of God, gave him a perpetual joy in the intellec- 


taal gifts he had received, and an entire acquiescence 
in the providence which should call him to part with 

To the above I am permitted to add the testimony 
of one whose words are ever chosen, appropriate, and 
weighty, and whose genius seems to the writer kin- 
dred to his who, at so early an age, made so deep and 
permanent an impression on his memory. The Hon. 
Edward Everett thus recalls his impressions of the 
oration in question : — 

1 If I should attempt to fix the period at which I first felt 
all the power of Mr. Buckminster's influence, it would be 
at the delivery of his oration before the Phi Beta Kappa 
Society, in August, 1S09 ; at which time I had been two 
years in college, but still hardly emerged from boyhood. 
That address, although the standard of merit for such per- 
formances is higher now than it was then, will, I think, still 
be regarded as one of the very best of its class, admirably 
appropriate, thoroughly meditated, and exquisitely wrought. 
It unites sterling sense, sound and various scholarship, pre- 
cision of thought, the utmost elegance of style, without pomp 
or laborious ornament, with a fervor and depth of feeling 
truly evangelical. These qualities, of course, are preserved 
in the printed text of the oration. But the indescribable 
charm of his personal appearance and manner, — the look, 
the voice, the gesture and attitude, the unstudied outward 
expression of the inward feeling, — of these no idea can be 
formed by those who never heard him. A better conception 
of what they might have been may probably be gathered 
from the contemplation of Stuart's portrait than from any 
description. I can never look at it without fancying I catch 
the well-remembered expression of the living eye, at once 
gentle and penetrating, and hear the most melodious voice, 
as I firmly believe, that ever passed the lips of man 


'I will only add, that I think he possessed, in a greater 
degree than I have seen them combined in one person, an 
intellect of great acuteness and power, a brilliant imagina- 
tion, a sound, practical judgment, a taste for literary research 
of all sorts, and especially for critical learning, together with 
an elevation of moral feeling approaching to austerity, (not 
in his judgments of others, but in his own sense of duty,) 
and a devotional spirit rapt and tender almost beyond the 
measure of humanity. To repeat his own beautiful quota- 
tion, in the address above alluded to, in his case, if ever 
among men, — 

" True prayer 
Has flowed from lips wet with Castalian dews." 

4 All this he was at the age of twenty-eight, when he was 
taken from us. Had he lived to the ordinary age of man, 
it seems to me that he gave an early assurance that he 
possessed those intellectual and moral endowments, which 
would have made him, in his profession, the foremost man 
of his country and time.' 

There were other objects, upon which much of his 
time was employed, — objects of utility, that brought 
to him neither applause nor reputation. Among his 
papers are memoirs, subscriptions, and prefaces to 
books and proposals, which had only a temporary 
interest, and have passed away and are forgotten. 
Among those which have since assumed a permanent 
and increasing importance is the Athenaeum. His 
letters have shown how deep an anxiety he felt about 
its prosperity and influence. In this year, or the next, 
he spent much time in assisting to arrange and classify 
the library, and began to write the preface to the pub- 
lished catalogue. The correspondence between him- 
self and Mr. William S. Shaw, while he was in 



Europe, although previous to this time, is introduced 
here. It will show how entire was the confidence 
placed in these two friends, and with what enthusiasm 
they entered into the business. In his preface he 
says : — 

4 The present catalogue will exhibit at once our riches 
and our poverty ; it will show to the world what we have 
amassed, and suggest to future benefactors what we yet 
hope to collect. When we recollect, that, four years ago, 
this institution existed only in the hopes and projects of a 
few reading men, and that, from a germ almost impercep- 
tible, it has grown into the present generous establishment, 
w 7 e can hardly repress our exultation 

' If the time should ever come, which we fondly expect, 
when a superb structure shall be raised in this town, wherein 
to deposit the crowded treasures and the precious collections 
of this literary institution, and the Historical Society shall 
consent to unite our common possessions upon the subject 
of American histoiy, we shall then have approached nearer 
to the accomplishment of our darling object, the formation 
of an American Library worthy of the country.' * 

'Boston, Dec. 1st, 1806. 

'Dear Buckminster, — I know you will be delighted 
to hear of the progress w r e have made in the reading-room 
and library, which has much surpassed the expectations of 
even the most sanguine of us. We have one hundred and 
sixty subscribers at ten dollars a year, consisting of the 
most respectable gentlemen in Boston, with the probability 
of having two hundred subscribers at least, the moment the 
rooms are opened. We have taken rooms in Congress 
Street, in what are called Joy's Buildings, which we shall 
occupy till the spring, when we expect to be able to procure 

* The above extracts are taken from the manuscript of the preface, 
in my brother's handwriting. 


more commodious rooms. We have had nearly a thousand 
volumes of valuable books presented to us, and one hundred 
and sixty dollars in cash. The institution is a very popular 
one, and there is a strong inclination discovered to patronize 
it on a very extensive plan, and I have very little doubt that 
in a few years we shall see a library in our beloved Boston, 
inferior to none in America. If we do not, it will be owing 
altogether to want of exertion on the part of our literary 
men, whose duty it is to awake from their stupid lethargy, 
and to rescue our country from the scorn and derision which 
now lie so heavily upon her. 

4 We propose that the whole property of the institution 
shall be vested in a number of trustees, not exceeding 
eleven, seven of whom to be chosen from the Anthology 
Society, the remaining four to be gentlemen out of the 
Society, the Trustees thus chosen to have the sole and 
exclusive management of the institution. Dr. Kirkland, 
Mr. Emerson, Peter Thacher, Walter, and myself, are 
chosen from the Anthology Society, and we intend to 
choose your honor to be one the moment you come home. 
Chief Justice Parsons, Mr. John Lowell, Mr. Freeman, we 
have also chosen, none of whom have yet made known 
their acceptance but Mr. Parsons, who very readily com- 
plied with our request, much to the joy of us all. As soon 
as the Trustees can be called together, they are to choose 
a President, Vice-President, Recording and Corresponding 
Secretaries, Treasurer, &c. Mr. Parsons is to be chosen 
President, Walter will probably be chosen Corresponding 
Secretary, and your humble servant, Recorder. 

4 In drawing up the regulations, we have followed very 
closely the laws of the Athenaeum of Liverpool, for which 
I am greatly indebted to your kindness in transmitting im- 
mediately on your arrival at Liverpool. It is an admirable 
institution, and we intend to make ours as much like that 
as the different circumstances of the two countries will 
admit. I pray you to make it an object to collect as much 


information as will be in your power respecting all literary 
societies, catalogues of their libraries, their laws, &c, &c. 
They will be pleasant to have in our reading-room at least, 
and they may be made useful in America, to stimulate our 
countrymen to some important mental exertions. I wish 
you could be prevailed upon to avail yourself of the ad- 
vantages your residence in London this winter will afford 
you, to collect information relative to the literature of Eng- 
land, their colleges, their schools, their scientific institutions, 
their literary men, &c, &c, and publish a series of papers 
in our dearly cherished Anthology on the present state of 
English literature, which I am very certain would be novel, 
interesting, and useful to the people of this country. Write 
a series of letters from England to us in America, as 
La Harpe wrote from Paris to the Emperor Paul the First, 
of Russia. He was engaged in a correspondence with the 
Emperor for five years, which, since La Harpe's death, has 
been published in four volumes. He sent to the young 
prince all the literary and political news of Paris, and judged 
of men and books with all the freedom which a literary 
correspondence admits. The work is wonderfully inter- 
esting. It will be read by men of letters and men of 
fashion. The first will find much correct criticism, the 
second pleasant anecdote, and all variety, which, you know, 
is always charming. 

' I inclose to you with this a bill of exchange, payable 
to you, and drawn upon Samuel Williams, Esquire, for six 
hundred dollars, five hundred of which are to be expended 
in procuring books for the reading-room, and to be sent 
out as early in the spring as possible. The intention of 
the Trustees is to appropriate the money arising from sub- 
scriptions as follows : — After the necessary expenses of the 
institution are paid, the first object will be to provide for 
the rooms all the celebrated gazettes published in any part 
of the United States. The most interesting literary and 
political pamphlets in Europe and America, magazines, 


reviews, and scientific journals, in the English and French 
languages, London and Paris newspapers, Steel's Army 
and Navy List, Naval Chronicle, London and Paris book- 
sellers' catalogues, parliamentary debates, bibliographical 
works, voyages and travels, valuable maps and charts. 
The gazettes and pamphlets of our own country we can 
of course procure without troubling you ; but we wish you 
to take such measures as will insure to us the earlv trans- 
mission of all interesting pamphlets published in England 
on important subjects, the average amount for the year 
not to exceed three dollars per month ; that is, we are 
willing to appropriate thirty-six dollars a year of our funds 
for English pamphlets, including booksellers' catalogues. 
If your friends, Mr. Sam. or Francis Williams, could be 
persuaded to undertake this commission after you leave 
England, they would be the best men in the world for this 
purpose. At any rate, we shall depend on your selecting 
some person of judgment, in whom we may confide for the 
punctual discharge of this part of our engagement to supply 
the room with English pamphlets. 

' English magazines, reviews, &c. These publications we 
have thought it most expedient to procure, for the present, 
at least, through the agency of Mr. William Skinner, an 
English gentleman connected with a house in London, 
whose card I inclose you, and would wish you to call upon 
them, and converse with them on the objects of the institu- 
tion, and urge upon them the necessity of most punctual 
communication. I inclose to you, with this, a list of all the 
publications we have ordered from England, with a request 
that you would order any others yon should think proper. 
We wish particularly for Dr. Aikin's new magazine, the 
Atheirdeum, Arthur Aikin's Annual Review to be sent out 
in numbers, beo-inning with the first number of the fifth 
volume, and indeed for all the distinguished periodical 
journals in England. If you think, therefore, that we have 
not ordered a sufficient number, you are at perfect liberty 



to make any additions you please. You will observe that 
we have only sent for three newspapers, — the Morning 
Chronicle, the Courier, and Bell's Weekly Messenger, — 
which are as many as we thought our funds would allow 
of at present. If you think we ought to have one more, 
you may direct it to be sent out to us. To collect valuable 
maps and charts is one of the prime objects of the institu- 
tion, and ought to be immediately attended to. You will 
therefore appropriate a part of the money sent you with 
this (say, perhaps, one hundred dollars) to the purchasing 
of two or three good Atlases of standard reputation. 

4 After having furnished the room with newspapers, maga- 
zines, maps and charts, &c, &c , as above mentioned, the 
second object of the Trustees will be to supply the library 
with the most valuable encyclopedias of the arts and 
sciences in the French and English languages, with stand- 
ard dictionaries of the learned and modern languages, also 
dictionaries, critical, biographical, &c, and books of general 
reference useful to the merchant and scholar. We have 
already procured the American edition of Rees's Encyclo- 
pedia, as far as it has been published. W T e have also had 
presented to us a superb edition of Dr. Aikin's Johnson's 
Dictionary, in four large octavo volumes, by my friend, 
Joseph Tilden. Books printed on the Continent we can 
probably purchase cheaper by sending to Paris and Hol- 
land than you could be able to procure them in London. 
I should not therefore advise you to purchase books of 
this kind ; but of this you will be a much better judge than 
myself. I merely mention it by way of suggestion, leaving 
it entirely to your discretion. Some of the money, I should 
think, ought to be appropriated to purchase standard works 
upon commerce and books of useful reference to the mer- 
chants, as most of our subscribers are of this class. Mr. 
Samuel Williams could recommend to you some books of 
this kind. There is a work on this subject reviewed in the 
sixteenth number of the Edinburgh Review, entitled, I 


believe, Macpherson's Annals of Commerce, which I should 
think we ought to have. You ought to send us out also 
some miscellaneous books, useful to the loungers, — such, 
perhaps, as a complete edition of the English classics, such 
as the Spectator, Guardian, &c, with Drake's Essays on 
these periodical writers, &c, &c. The books you purchase 
must be all good editions, printed on good paper, and well 
bound ; but take care not to be too extravagant. I have 
thus, my dear Buckminster, detailed to you the objects to 
which we conceive the income of our institution ought for 
the present to be appropriated, and, with this information, 
send the five hundred dollars to you, to procure such books 
for the institution as your judgment shall dictate, with an 
entire confidence that the money will be appropriated in 
such a manner as will advance the interests and extend the 
patronage of the establishment, which I am very sensible 
you have much at heart. All the newspapers and literary 
publications, which we procure through the kindness of 
Mr. Skinner, we expect to pay for here, and have made 
our arrangements accordingly. 

' You must be very sensible, that the success of an in- 
stitution like ours will depend very much on the punctuality 
and dispatch with which we receive our foreign newspapers, 
pamphlets, new books, and periodical publications. I can- 
not urge upon you, therefore, too strongly, the necessity of 
adopting such measures, before you embark for this coun- 
try, as will best secure to us these great objects. I would 
beg leave to suggest to you the expediency of selecting 
a confidential bookseller in London ; promise that we will 
purchase all our books of him ; let him supply us with all 
our newspapers, magazines, &c, — in short, every thing 
we shall want from England ; tell him that our institution 
promises to be a permanent one, — that we shall probably 
send to England from one thousand to fifteen hundred 
dollars per year, to be expended in books. With such 
inducements, I should think, some one might be persuaded 


to make considerable exertion to comply with our requisi- 
tions. If you should adopt any plan of this kind, you must 
give information to Skinner's house, in London. 

4 1 send you one hundred dollars, on my own account, 
with which I wish you to procure for me the best edition 
of Shakspeare's plays, with all the prefaces, notes, com- 
mentaries, &c, which I suppose to be Reid's ; Dr. Aikin's 
edition of Dr. Johnson's Dictionary, in four volumes, octavo, 
both to be well bound in calf; Dibdin's bibliographical 
works ; and, if these should not amount to one hundred 
dollars, any other books you may please to procure for me. 
Alas ! I have no more time to write at present. Remember 
me most affectionately to Mr. Thacher. Consult him about 
the reading-room. Love me always, and believe me to be 
most sincerely yours, most affectionately, 

' Wm. S. Shaw.' 

'Boston, 13th December, 1806. 

'Dear Buckminster, — I wrote to you by the Galen a 
long letter, and inclosed you a bill of exchange, drawn 
upon Samuel Williams, Esquire, for six hundred dollars, 
which letter I presume you have received. It ought to be 
a considerable object, I should think, in the purchase of 
books for our library, to procure such valuable works as 
are least common in this town, and most difficult to be 
procured in this country. The publications relative to the 
literary fund in England I have never seen in this country, 
and, if they have any merit, I think you had best procure 
them. Horsley on Virgil's Seasons of Honey — I forget 
the title of the work — would be a novelty here. I want 
you also to procure, either for the reading-room or for me, 
" A View of the Causes and Consequences of the Ameri- 
can Revolution, in thirteen Discourses, preached in North 
America, between the years 1763 and 1775, by Jonathan 
Boucher, Vicar of Epsom, in the County of Surry." Rare 
books relative to the history of this country or the West 


India islands, &c, &c, ought to be obtained. The publica- 
tions ofliterary associations of eminence in Great Britain we 
ought to procure. Perhaps such letters might be addressed 
to the societies as would induce them to present copies of 
their publications to our institution ; but of this you are the 
better judge. I send you inclosed, with this, ten copies of 
our prospectus, that you may distribute them in a manner 
most likely to promote the great objects of our institution. 
In my last, I suggested to you the expediency of selecting 
some bookseller in London who would undertake to supply 
us with every thing we wanted, and who would be respon- 
sible for the punctual and early transmission of all our 
newspapers and literary publications. This is a very great 
object, and the prosperity and advancement of the institution 
depends very much on the success of our exertions in this 
particular. I would further suggest, whether it would not 
be possible to make some arrangements with the Athenaeum 
and Lyceum of Liverpool, that would operate beneficially 
to our establishment. The librarian of those institutions 
might possibly be induced to send us some of the numerous 
publications which they receive. I have frequently seen, in 
this town, at our printing offices, English newspapers, with 
the name of Athenaeum stamped upon them, and which, I 
have understood, came from that institution. These insti- 
tutions must receive a number of newspapers, magazines, 
&c, &c, and often duplicates which they do not care to 
preserve, and would be willing to send them to us at a very 
low price ; also, political pamphlets. 

4 1 think you might also advance the interests of our 
establishment by conversing with the Americans, particu- 
larly the Bostonians, in England, on the utility and the 
pleasure which will probably be afforded by an institution 
on our plan. In my exertions here, I have generally suc- 
ceeded beyond my most sanguine expectations, in obtaining 
subscriptions, and donations in books as well as money. 
The plan is a very popular one, and almost every one is 


desirous of doing something to promote its objects. If you 
choose to exercise the influence which I know you must 
possess over your American acquaintance in England, and 
I think it is your duty to do it, I have no doubt but that you 
might obtain some very valuable donations to the library. 
I should advise you to give one of our pamphlets to every 
generous American, with some observations which may 
induce them to make some exertion to promote the inter- 
ests of the establishment. There are many Englishmen, 
such as Sir John Sinclair, &c, who are pleased to take a 
very lively interest in every thing relative to American 
affairs, and who, I have no doubt, would be very much 
delighted in promoting the objects of our establishment. 
These gentlemen might be very useful in influencing the 
learned societies to make donations of their publications. 
I should also think it very proper to establish a correspond- 
ence with some learned men in England, to whom we might 
be permitted to write in behalf of the institution, and who 
might be the means of our procuring rare, valuable works, 
out of print, which we could not otherwise obtain. Mr. 
Benjamin Vaughan, here, has recommended us to his brother 
William, and has promised to give us letters to him. In my 
former letter, I requested you to procure some books of 
reputation for the merchants. In addition, I would suggest 
to you the propriety of purchasing Oddy's European Com- 
merce, reviewed in the Monthly Review for August last. I 
send you, with this, a second bill of exchange, drawn upon 
Samuel Williams, Esq., for six hundred dollars; five hundred 
to be laid out in books for the reading-room, as I wrote in 
my former letter, and one hundred on my own account, — 
to procure the best edition of Shakspeare, which I suppose 
to be Reid's, Johnson's Dictionary by Dr. Aikin, Dibdin's 
bibliographical works, to which I would add the Biblio- 
graphical Dictionary, similar to the one which Mr. Emerson 
had. If these books should amount to a greater sum than 
one hundred dollars, which I presume they will, I can only 


promise to pay the bill whenever it shall be presented. If 
you lay out the whole six hundred dollars at one bookstore, 
you will, of course, procure the books much cheaper. 

' The gentlemen of the Anthology Society desire to be 
particularly remembered to you and our friend Thacher. 
We now meet in Congress Street, under the same roof with 
the reading-room, and Cooper, who is to keep the library, 
provides for us. Our subscribers gradually increase, and 
the publication seems to be rising in reputation. The book- 
sellers and printers begin to think us of some consequence, 
and send us most of their publications. We frequently drink 
a bumper to the health of our good friends in Europe, and, 
with much sincerity, wish them pleasure and improvement 
from their travels. We often regret that we have not been 
favored with some communications for the Anthology, but 
anticipate with pleasure the time when they will come en 
masse. Mr. Thacher must not fail to fulfil his promise, and 
we expect a whole budget in the spring. Phillips, in London, 
has sent us an answer to the letter which we w r rote to him 
last spring, thanking us for the numbers of the Anthology 
which we sent him, speaking in a very flattering manner 
of the publication, and saying that he should be very happy 
to interchange with us ; but he has as yet sent us none of his 
numbers. If it is not too much trouble, I wish either you 
or Thacher would call upon him, and converse with him on 
the subject. I should think it would be worth while to make 
the same attempt of an interchange with other periodical 
publications in London. I also wish that one of you would 
cause the plan of our institution to be published in the 
Monthly Magazine, and perhaps some other publication, 
with such observations as you may think proper. Profes- 
sors McKean and Willard are on nomination for members 
of our society. You have already heard of Dr. Kirkland 
being a member, and we find him very pleasant as a 
sociable man. We have now completed our third volume, 
and we natter ourselves that the last is very much the 


best. We commence the new year with a firm determi- 
nation to persevere, and we flatter ourselves, that, with 
our own exertions, and with such foreign aid as we may 
procure, we shall be able to make the publication still 
more valuable. 

' I promised my curious friend, Harris, whom I once 
introduced to you, that I w T ould make some inquiries of you 
in his behalf. In the second volume of the American 
Biography, Dr. Belknap mentions arrows headed with brass 
being shot at a party of Englishmen, by the Indians of 
Massachusetts, and that they were sent to England as 
curiosities. Now he wishes, that, if you meet with any 
such, you will critically examine them. He can account 
for the Indians having copper, by supposing that they found 
it in its natural state, but brass is an artificial metal. It 
would favor his theory, if these arrows' heads should 
prove to be square, brass coins, such as were found at 

' Boston, 31st December, 1806. 

' My dear Buckminster, — Not knowing how early the 
Galen might go this morning, I put my letter into the 
letter-bag last evening, and, as the ship does not sail till this 
afternoon, I have an opportunity of which, I assure you, I 
readily avail myself, of writing you again. I also send 
you, in a package, directed to Mr. Samuel Williams, 
twenty copies of the regulations of our library, on which I 
have written, " Not to be delivered till the ship arrives in 
London." As the rooms are not to be opened until the 1st 
of January, 1807, the printers delayed striking them off, so 
that I did not get them till late last evening, and was 
obliged to send them immediately on board the ship. On 
looking over them, I find there are several typographical 
errors, particularly in the list of French journals and the 
last page, which I wish you to correct. In my list of 
periodical publications, sent to Skinner's house, in London, 
I wrote for the Naval Chronicle and Curtis's Botanical 


Magazine, to be sent out from some number in this year ; 
but we wish for these works from their commencement, the 
volumes to be bound. In the same parcel you will find 
Sherman's account of the proceedings of the council, 
which, thinking it might afford you some amusement, I 
persuaded Dr. Kirkland to give me, to send to you. 

4 In the literary way, I have not much to tell you. Brad- 
ford has printed four parts of Rees's Cyclopedia, which, in 
typographical execution, is certainly not inferior, in any 
respect, to the English edition. The plates, too, are 
incomparably well executed. 

1 The memoirs of Dr. Priestley you have probably read 
in London, but the literary world receive no great accession 
to their stock of knowledge from this source. I was most 
wretchedly disappointed in perusing these volumes. West 
& Greenleaf are publishing in this town a very good 
edition of Burke's works, in four volumes, which they sell 
for eight dollars. The first volume is out of press, and is 
a fine specimen of American typography. Jos. Dennie's 
Portfolio has been supported with less talent this year than 
any former years, and the Miscellany died a natural death 
last Commencement. ' 

' London, March 10th, 1807. 

4 My dear Shaw, — I have laid out all your draft in 
books, which I hope will be useful, though they were 
necessarily selected with so much precipitation, that I fear 
they will not all be approved. The works on commerce I 
send because they are the best, and because you mentioned 
some of them. Chalmers's British Essayists, because par- 
ticularly mentioned in your letter ; the same with Virgil's 
Seasons of Honey. In the article dictionaries, I was 
unwilling to give ten or twelve guineas for Facciolati's, 
when you may get it for seventy-five guilders in Holland ; 
or five guineas for an Elzivir Scapula, when 1 think it may 
be found in Boston for much less ; or fourteen guineas for 
Stephens's Greek Thesaurus, when I know it can be pro- 



cured for much less in Paris. Kennicott's Bible, and 
Calupo's Concordance, I bought because they were cheap. 
If they are not wanted, sell them to Bowdoin College. A 
copy of Walton's Polyglott, with Castell's Lexicon, can 
hardly be procured here at any price. Of the new books 
which appeared last year, I send two or three of the most 
valuable ; but I know not what you have already, and 
therefore I buy new books with caution. The only book I 
regret having bought is Thuanus, for I know it will not be 
valued or read. You ought to have a set of the British 
Poets. I shall bring out some one edition, which you can 
take or not, as you please. Those maps, which I send, 
you can use till my return. In the mean while, you will 
determine whether you will order a set on spring rollers. 
The four quarters of the world, East Indies, Pacific, and 
South America, will cost you between fifty and sixty 
guineas. Curtis's is too expensive to make part of the 
present invoice. I am extremely sorry that the books could 
not be got ready for the new Galen. It is the delay of the 
binder which has prevented. I shall certainly put them on 
board the old Galen, or Samuel Welles's vessel, which will 
sail in a fortnight. Among the books which I have bought 
for myself, there are several which have that character of 
rarity, as well as excellence, which you seem to demand, 
and which, upon my return, the Athenaeum may take at the 
price which they cost me. 

' There still remain in P.'s hands, towards your next 
draft, — but I believe I shall send them out immediately, 
upon credit, — Hoffman's Lexicon Universale (either this 
or Pitiscus is indispensable to a classical student ; judice, 
Dr. Parr) ; Curtis's Bot. Mag., from the commencement; a 
set of British Poets (Anderson's cheapest and most com- 
plete, Johnson's most convenient but scarce, Sharp's very 
elegant and dear ; — tell me which you prefer for the 
reading-room) ; Alberti's Italian Dictionary ; and several 
new publications. 


c Tell my theological friends that the second volume of 
Griesbach has appeared, and I have taken care that the 
Duke of Grafton be reminded that he had the goodness to 
present a large paper copy of the first volume to the 
University at Cambridge. I hope they will receive the 
second in the course of the summer. 

' It has occurred to me that there are now one or two 
opportunities in Boston of adding to your institution two or 
three extremely valuable works, from the libraries of 
persons deceased. Would to God they were alive ! But, 
His will be done ! This circumstance has prevented me 
from purchasing Wetstein, Winklemann, the Monthly Re- 
view complete, etc. 

4 Here follows a list of standard works, for which I think 
you may send to Holland with more advantage than to any 
other place, except Hamburg. [Omitted.] 

' I shall have a notice of your institution inserted in the 
Athenoeum, here, but it will not excite any interest, reading- 
rooms and public libraries being so common in every part 
of England and Ireland. Yours, affectionately, 

■ J. S. B.' 

1 London, April 3d, 1807. 

1 My dear Shaw, — At length I have finished the pur- 
chase of books for the reading-room, and have exceeded, 
by nearly thirty pounds, my commission and your bill of 
exchange. If you disapprove of any of the purchases, as, 
upon second thoughts, I have, in two or three instances, you 
are welcome to return them to me when I reach America. 
My theological friends may blame me for omitting Kenni- 
cott, but they would blame me still more if they knew the 
reason, which is, that nobody would consult the volumes, 
except those who ought to possess and use them daily. 
I have sent no general Atlas, because there is none worth 
sending, and because Pinkerton has announced the publica- 
tion of a grand one, which is to supersede all others. I 


have procured Priestley (bookseller) to subscribe early in 
behalf of the Athenaeum, Boston. If you still wish one 
immediately, you may take one which Faden has selected 
for me here, and for which I gave him nine guineas. You 
may take it at what it shall cost me. 

' Of this invoice, several books were purchased merely 
in conformity to your instructions, and these, unluckily, 
swell the bill much, — e. g. Naval Chronicle and Gurtis's 
Botanical Magazine, from the beginning, and four or five 
expensive works on commerce. About a dozen works I 
have sent out because they were new, and it should be an 
important object in your establishment to have all the new 
publications. Those that are worth keeping you can keep, 
and the others you may sell at the end of a year or two. 
I began to make out a list of late works for you, but was 
soon obliged to stop, from the difficulty of selection. Upon 
the whole, I believe you must allow me to give a general 
order for all new works. As to those I have sent, I cannot 
say they are all of superior merit ; but I suspect the least 
valuable will be the most popular. I am not sure that 
Blair's Chronology is better than Playfair's. One or the 
other, I think, you ought to have. D'Anville's maps are 
excellent, it is well known ; but I believe that Laurie & 
Whittier's edition is poorly engraved, but it is the only one 
I could find. At any rate, D'Anville's is to be preferred, I 
think, to Wilkenson's. Of Miller's Gardener's Dictionary, 
Chalmers's British Essayists, and Pinkerton's new editions, 
there will be, I think, but one opinion as to their value. . . . 

' As to Eber's German Dictionary, it is the best, and if 
the reading-room does not want it, I do. Gregory's Cyclo- 
pedia is a very saleable book, if you choose to part with it. 
Pitiscus is indispensable to a classical student ; so is Hoff- 
man's Lexicon. This latter I have bought for myself, and 
I advise you to send for it in your next order. Maton, 
Drummond, Mackenzie, Foster, Knight, Pitts, Lives of 
Gray, Kaimes, etc., are among the new books. But I 


repeat, again, that I cannot undertake to make a selection 
from them. How far back must I go ? You must have all 
the new publications, as they come out, if they have any 
kind of merit. The edition of Scapula, which I send, 
though not an Elzivir, is equally complete. The Elzivir 
cannot be bought in good order under six or seven guineas. 
Walker's Pronouncing Dictionary is of last year. The 
Lactantius, though a most curious and standard work, the 
Historical Society will be glad to have, if you are not. 
Newman's Spanish Dictionary I know nothing about, except 
that it is the last. The merit of Alberti is well known. 

4 You do not know how difficult it is to procure many 
books for one hundred pounds. I have run the Society in 
debt thirty pounds, which, if you please, you will provide 
for in your next draft. 

' You will find that I have ventured to add to vour list 
of periodical works. Whether some ought to be struck off 
or not you will judge. There are a great many books, 
too, which you ought to have among the first, which I have 
not purchased here, because they can be procured so much 
cheaper on the Continent. Among them I must mention 
Facciolatus and Gesner ; Stephens's Greek Thesaurus, with 
Scott's Appendix ; a complete set of classics and of 
classical helps, such as the immense collections of Groevius 
and Gronovius ; complete sets of the Acta Eruditorum, 
Journal des Sjavans, Bibliotheque Raisonnee, the Bible of 
Le Clerc, the Memoirs of the Berlin and St. Petersburg 
Academies, Commentaries of the Society of Leipsic, 
Abridgment of the Philosophical Transactions, etc. 

4 1 would suggest the practicability of procuring the com- 
plete set of the Monthly Review, which belonged to my 
good friend Deacon Storer ; also the Annual Register. I 
hope you have the list I have sent you for Paris, and that 
you will transmit it as soon as possible. I repeat again, 
I should not have sent out exactly such a list, had I not 
known that future orders for London, Amsterdam, Paris, 



and I hope, too, Hamburg and Leghorn, would probably 
supply many apparent deficiencies. 

' I am in great doubt about the propriety of applying 
to any societies here for an exchange of publications ; for 
alas ! what have we to exchange ? The Bath, Manchester, 
Dublin, etc., Society papers are extremely valuable ; but 
I think our funds are not yet sufficient to procure them. 
We must, at least for some time, think of popularity, and 
I know of no method so likely to procure it, as to keep our 
rooms furnished with abundance of magazines, pamphlets, 
and new books. This, I am satisfied, should be our first 
object ; and our second, to lay slowly and diligently the 
foundation of a permanent library of works difficult to be 
procured in America. c£100 a year, judiciously expended 
for this last object, would do much. If I should ever 
return, which God grant may be this summer, I think I 
shall be able to open a correspondence with Paris, which 
will supply us with books now unknown in America. 

4 The books are shipped on board the Amelia, because 
Mr. Welles takes them for nothing, and because they could 
not be got ready for the Galen. Mr. Williams has got 
them insured. 

4 Your affectionate 

4 J. S. B.' 

1 London, June 6th, 1807. 

4 My dear Shaw, — I had determined not to write you 
another letter from England ; but I have just seen, in a 
Boston paper, that the Amelia has arrived with the precious 
deposit for the reading-room, and I cannot fail to offer you 
my congratulations. I suggested to you the propriety of 
ordering, among your new books for the Athenseum, Ros- 
coe's Lorenzo de Medici, and Leo the Tenth ; Duppa's Life 
of Michael Angelo ; Shepherd's Poggio ; and one other of 
the same period, which I do not now recollect, uniformly 
bound. I wish it were in your power to order some of the 


superb topographical works upon Greece and Rome, such 
as Stuart's Antiquities of Athens, GelPs Topography of 
Troy, Lumisden, Caylus, etc., to say nothing of Groevius 
and Gronovius. 

8 Among the valuable works of the last year, I cannot 
omit to mention Stuart's Translation of Sallust, 2 vols. 8vo., 
extremely interesting to a lover of Roman Literature ; Lord 
Holland's Life of Lope de Vega ; Duten's Memoirs ; Clark- 
son's Portraiture of Quakerism ; and many others, which I 
desired to send out, if your request not to run you in debt 
had not deterred me. 

' I cannot forbear, too, offering you my advice about 
your proposed edifice. Do not build any, unless you can 
raise money enough to erect an elegant classical building, 
either entirely of stone, or with a stone facade, which shall 
reflect everlasting credit upon the taste and munificence 
of the founders. If you cannot do this, any common house 
will answer your purpose. The more rooms the better, if 
securely warmed in winter. At any rate, before you build, 
I hope you will obtain, from England and the Continent, 
drawings, and plans, and views of structures of the kind 
proposed. Loammi Baldwin, who, I understand, has just 
arrived, would send you from Paris, if not from London, 
plans worthy of your attention. I shall venture to speak to 
him upon the subject.' 

Certainly Mr. Shaw placed unbounded confidence 
in his friend, and his commissions were executed 
with as much care as a residence of only four months 
in London, to one who was absent on account of 
precarious health, could well afford. A part of this 
time also was taken up in an excursion to Scotland 
and Wales. It would excite a smile, if it did not 
almost provoke anger, to find, that, in addition to 
work imposed upon him that would have occupied 
a paid agent for months, Mr. Shaw gravely asks him 


: to write a series of letters for the Anthology, upon 
the literature of England, their colleges, their schools, 
their literary institutions and literary men, which I 
am very sure,' he says, ' would be novel and inter- 
esting and useful to the people of this country.' A 
young man, with a few months to devote to the 
recovery of his health, was, beside all the rest of his 
work, to write a book like La Harpe's, which was 
the employment of the best years of life ! 

'Boston, May 18th, 1807. 

' I do most sincerely congratulate you, my dear Buck- 
minster, on the flattering prospect you have of the restora- 
tion of your health. This is the only consideration which 
in any degree reconciles me to your longer absence, for I 
do wish most ardently for your return. Since the death 
of our dear friend Walter, I have regretted your absence, 
and wished for your company, more than ever. O, my 
dear friend, how little did we anticipate this most grievous 
dispensation of God's holy providence when last we parted ! 
A thousand little incidents, relative to his sickness and 
death, forcibly impress themselves upon my mind ; and 
if God shall be pleased to permit us to meet again, I will 
detail them to you with melancholy pleasure. I need not 
tell you, who were so well acquainted with us both, how 
much I loved him, nor how worthy he was of admiration 
and esteem. There was no good that I ever enjoyed, 
there was no pleasure that I ever anticipated, with which 
Walter was not most intimately associated ; but my dear 
friend is dead ! I ought not to complain ; God's will 
be done ! How many delightful hours have we passed 
together in conversing about you, my good friend, — in 
recollecting the pleasures of former days passed in social 
converse, — in felicitating you on the advantages we 
flattered ourselves you would enjoy from your travels, in 
your health and in intellectual improvement, — and with 


what transport did we anticipate your return ! O, my 
God ! Of such pleasures departed, never to return, how 
painful the remembrance ! 

1 From the pamphlets, which I send to you with this, of 
which you have several for distribution as you think proper, 
you will see that the Trustees of the Anthology reading- 
room and library have obtained an act of incorporation by 
the name of the Proprietors of the Boston Athenaeum. I 
doubt very much whether there ever has been an institution 
in this country, which has made such rapid advances as 
ours ; and I can now congratulate you on the prospect of 
having a library in this town, which you always seemed to 
believe was only a delusion of my idle brain, on a liberal 
plan, highly honorable to the munificence of our citizens, 
and which will assist and facilitate the researches of the 
learned and gratify the ingenious curiosity of strangers. 
This, with me, I can assure you, is no ordinary subject for 
congratulation. Depend upon it, that the establishment of 
the Athenseum, the rooms of which are to be always acces- 
sible at all hours of the day, is one of the greatest strides 
towards intellectual advancement that this country has ever 
witnessed. We have every reason to believe that the 
hundred and fifty shares will be taken up, which, at three 
hundred dollars a share, will give us forty-five thousand 
dollars. We already have fifty shares subscribed for, and 
there are about thirty gentlemen beside, who have promised 
to subscribe. We shall not trouble ourselves for life- 
subscribers till the permanent shares are taken up, which I 
undertake to say will be the case in the course of three 
weeks at least, and perhaps in a less time. 

' You did very right to send us out the Oxford Review, 
though I do not think much of the numbers I have read. 
As our funds are very much increased, we can now afford 
to take all the English literary magazines of any eminence, 
and you are at liberty to add any to the list you please. 
What merit has the Panorama, a new publication I see 


advertised ? We are perfectly satisfied with the arrange- 
ments made in London with Jenner, for the periodical 
publications. They come out as regularly as we could 
expect to receive them from London ; but we wish that 
there might be some arrangement in Liverpool, so that no 
vessel should sail for Boston without some papers for us. 
Could you not make some agreement with the Athenaeum, 
Lyceum, or Union Society, to send out some papers differ- 
ent from those we already have at half-price ? You must 
not send us out any books on credit. Remember me with 
all possible affection to dear Thacher. In great haste, dear 
Buckminster, yours, W, S. S.' 



Dr. Buckminster's marriage, for the third time, 
took place, after a widowhood of five years, in the 
summer of 1810. His wife was the widow of Col. 
Eliphalet Ladd, who had been one of his best and 
most valuable parishioners; and a long and intimate 
acquaintance had guarantied to both families the hap- 
piness that would be secured to their parents from a 
nearer union. Her genuine kindness, the devoted 
and patient love, which rendered the last years of 
my father's life free from care, and soothed the irri- 
tation of a mind beginning to feel the approach of 
declining years and of mental depression, secured to 
her the most affectionate gratitude of his children. 

The father's comfort being thus happily provided 
for, his daughters were no longer detained by filial 
scruples from the pleasant sojourn of their brother's 
house. His anxiety for their eternal welfare in- 
creased as they were more separated from him. It 
would be unjust to his memory to exclude from 
these pages the following correspondence, which 
took place at this time. But although the letters 
appear without the alteration of a single word, in 

420 dr. buckminster's correspondence 

the apprehension of the writer, the Calvinistic for- 
mula and mode of expression, which give to them 
a sectarian aspect, is wholly distinct from the spirit 
that breathes through them. My father's religion 
was of the heart, not of the head ; it was neither 
that of Calvin, nor of the Assembly's Catechism ; it 
was the pure spirit of the Gospel of Christ that 
breathed in that form of faith which bound him to a 
system. It was not the form nor the name which fed 
his spiritual nature and kept alive the < life of God in 
his soul.' He would have been happier could he 
have held more intimate communion with his chil- 
dren, — could he have recognized in his son, and in 
the daughter to whom these letters are addressed, the 
same spirit which breathed in his own soul, — could 
he have seen that love, joy, peace, gentleness, and 
goodness were as much the fruits of the spirit of 
grace in them as ''repentance, faith and holiness' 
are in those denominated ' Orthodox Christians.' If 
they have met in the great company of purified spirits 
assembled from among those who have worn the 
livery of every sect, and been claimed by every de- 
nomination beneath the sun, the only bond of union 
will be, that they have lived the divine life, the life 
of God in the soul. 

After the marriage of her father, his eldest daughter 
made her brother's house her permanent home, and 
the other sisters were occasionally there. Their 
separation was short, but they never met on earth 
again ; and the words which closed the correspon- 
dence, — ' O, my child, let us be prepared to live 
with Christ in the world to come ! ' — as they had a 



prophetic meaning, so we may trust they had a perfect 
and blissful fulfilment. 

The correspondence begins by a letter from his 
eldest daughter to a sister. 

' Boston, September, 1810. 

4 1 have just been looking at the moon from the roof of 
the house where you, my dear E., passed many hours last 
summer, but never one where nature was more tranquilly 
sublime than now. Every thing seems to say that we are 
the work of a perfect Being, and the care of a mild and 
compassionate Father ; and we can almost believe that he 
is looking even upon us with approbation and love. How 
great are our obligations to this God ! and how far do I fall 
short of performing the duties aright that these obligations 
imply ! Our best endeavors to serve him are but poor 
returns for the mercies he bestows upon us ; and yet I, who 
have received blessings without number, neglect some of 
his most plain and reasonable commands ! When I sat 
down to my desk, I did not think of .falling into this train 
of thought; but why may I not write to you, dear E., upon 
a subject, which, from a consciousness of my deficiency in 
knowledge, I dare not converse upon, although it often 
employs my thought? I am sure you believe, with me, 
that it is a duty in every one arrived at years of discretion, 
and desirous of the name of Christian, to profess publicly 
her belief in Christianity, and show to the world that she 
loves and reveres the character of the blessed Saviour by 
partaking of the holy ordinance. 

' I am far from believing that there are not many good 
persons, who, from doubt of their qualifications, mistrust of 
their sincerity, or perhaps from a habit of procrastination, 
live and die without becoming members of the Church in 
this world, who will yet enjoy all the happiness of heaven ; 
still, I think it is a duty every Christian should perform, and 
that the neglect of it causes a severe compunction and pain 


422 dr. buckminster's correspondence 

of conscience. I have been wishing to talk with papa on 
the subject, but I cannot get confidence, and I believe that 
I have sometimes refrained through fear, that, instead of 
an honor I should be a reproach to the cause of Christ ; 
for, in every situation, we should " keep a conscience void 
of offence to God and man ; " and those who publicly pro- 
fess to be Christ's disciples do more injury to the cause of 
Christianity by small errors than mere men of the world 
do by great sins. Are we not promised the assistance of 
God's spirit to help us in all our sincere endeavors to serve 
him ? and, if we firmly believe this, are we not wrong in 
neglecting any means which will enable us to become more 
worthy disciples of Jesus, and more perfect in our lives ? 

' The precepts of the Gospel do not prohibit rational and 
moderate pleasures ; indeed, the purest pleasures are there 
recommended and enforced ; our endeavor should be to 
form the mind, and keep it in a state for their enjoyment. 
There we are taught that such a disposition is necessary ; 
that, while we live in the world, we should be able to live 
above it. We must often associate in the world with those 
whose chief happiness is in the show and pageantry of the 
world ; but it does not follow, because we are charitable to 
such, " that we are lovers of pleasure more than lovers of 
God." The difference of opinion that prevails upon the 
most momentous subjects, at the present time, makes one 
almost afraid to adopt any belief; for what we will assert 
is truth, another will reason into falsehood. I cannot but 
believe, that, if any particular faith had been required for 
the attainment of heaven, it would have been distinctly 
revealed to us ; and when we see so many good men 
differing in faith and sentiment, who are making equal 
exertions for the glory of God and the improvement of 
man, we cannot but believe that they will partake of equal 
joys in another world. 

' Most affectionately, your 

<L. M. B.' 


After reading this letter, the father wrote in re- 

' October 29th, 1*10. 

'My dear Daughter, — Religion, my dear child, real 
religion, is the principal thing, the thing of first importance, 
the one thing needful, to all ages and characters. It does 
not consist in a speculative belief of a certain set of 
principles, even though they be true ; nor in the external 
performance of a round of duties, though they be the duties 
which reason and revelation impose upon us ; but it consists 
in a reconciliation of the heart to God, in an approbation 
of his character, his government, his truth, his precepts, 
his institutions, and a conformity to them, — performing the 
services which they impose from a principle of love and 
respect to his authority and pleasure. It (i. e. religion) 
gives God, as manifested in Jesus Christ, the preference to 
all other objects, and rebinds the soul to him, as its supreme 
good. Now this is not the natural state of man, — of any 
man descended from apostate Adam. We are alienated 
and estranged from God through the ignorance that is in us, 
by reason of the blindness of our hearts ; we are naturally 
averse from the true character of God as a holy and sove- 
reign God. We may love his blessings, but we love not 
him. We love pleasure more than God, and the creature 
more than the Creator. We love human excellence more 
than the Divine, — talk more about it, dwell more upon it, 
although the former is to the latter but as the drop of the 
bucket to the waves of the ocean. Universal experience 
and Scriptural declaration confirm this truth ; hence the 
necessity of our being born again, — of our being renewed 
in the spirit of our minds, — created anew. This is not 
some trifling alteration in our sentiments, views, feelings, 
and practices, but it is a radical, and essential, and abiding 
change, in which old things pass away and all things 
become new ; in which God is welcomed to his throne in 
the heart, and every thing is brought into obedience to his 

424 dr. buckminster's correspondence 

pleasure. This is religion, and to effect this is the design 
of the mighty apparatus of the Gospel. Till this is 
effected, we have no part or lot in religion, — no title to 
its blessings. This is the religion I want for my children. 
But I fear, through the pride of science and philosophy, 
and the fashionable liberality of the present day, my 
children are placing the most formidable barriers against 
their ever possessing it. 

4 This change, that I have spoken of, is effected by 
receiving Christ and believing in him, with a cordial, but 
humbling and self-denying faith. In proportion as we 
cherish inadequate ideas of our helpless, guilty, and incura- 
ble state by nature, flattering ideas of there being some 
remains of good in us, surviving the apostasy, upon which, 
by our own exertions, we may raise ourselves to a moral 
and spiritual change, we shall be indifferent to the Saviour, 
we shall have low thoughts of his character and of his 
undertaking, and compass ourselves about with sparks of 
our own kindling, till we receive this at the hand of the 
Lord, that we lie down in sorrow. I wish that I had not so 
much reason to fear that none of my children are partakers 
of this grace. I have reason to bless God that you are 
amiable, that you are improved, that you are affectionate to 
each other and dutiful to me ; but, O that I could hope that 
you were gracious, that you loved Christ in his true char- 
acter, more than father or brother, more than characters 
distinguished for science and philosophy, for politeness and 
refinement, in a vain world, whose pageantry will soon 
vanish as a dream ! 

' I have been favored and pleased with reading the letters 
you wrote to E., with the scenery and descriptions of 
society in England, and the interest you take in it. Are 
you as much interested, my dear daughter, in the scenes 
that were exhibited in Judea, in Mount Calvary, and the 
garden of Gethsemane ? Do they at any time cause such 
emotions to thrill in your breast ? Are you as sensibly 


interested in the characters there ? How natural, in writing 
to a beloved sister, bound with you to eternity, and whose 
only hope must be with yours in this Saviour, how natural 
would it have been to have adverted to it ! You love 
Miss L. for her admiration of Miss S. Do you love those 
who admire Christ in his true character, and because they 
admire him ? O, my child, may God enable you to do so, 
and to love all those who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. 

You are anticipating with pleasure a portrait of , and a 

bust of . Have you any such desires to see Jesus, or 

to gaze upon the tokens of his love, the symbols of his 
body and blood ? A fear that you had not, my dearest 
daughter, — a fear that you were a stranger to the power of 
Divine grace, — was the reason I did not encourage your 
making a profession of religion when you spoke to me on 
the subject ; but perhaps I judged wrong. I beseech you 
not, my dear child, to rest in professions, — in saying Lord, 
Lord ! — but be sure that Christ is your Lord, and that you 
are crucified to the world and the world to you. Rest in 
nothing sort of regeneration, for unless you are born again, 
you cannot see the kingdom of God.' 

' November 23d, 1810. 

' My dear Daughter, — The reading of your letter 
brought to my mind the breathing of the Apostle, in the 
fourth chapter of Galatians, nineteenth and twentieth verses. 
However uncharitable it may appear to you, I must say, I 
stand in doubt of my children, and have fears, that, lest, as 
the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so their 
minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in 
Christ. The breathing of the Apostle, in the passage 
referred to above, implies in the strongest terms, that, 
naturally, there is nothing of Christ in us ; nothing until it 
is formed within us. This is supported by express Scrip- 
ture testimony. Every imagination of the thoughts of 
man's heart is evil, only evil, and that continually, from 
his youth. " The heart is deceitful above all things, and 


426 dr. buckminster's correspondence 

desperately wicked." " You hath he quickened," saith the 
Apostle to the Ephesians, " who were dead in trespasses 
and sins ; " and, lest he should be thought to confine this 
description to the heathen, he speaks of the privileged 
Jews as in the same state before their conversion, " among 
whom we all had our conversation in times past, in the lusts 
of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the 
mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as 
others." The denying, doubting, disbelieving this truth, 
leads to a train of errors in theology. Nay, unless the 
heart be better than the head, having been the subject of 
exercises which the head denies, I do not see how it can be 
a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell in. The corrupting of 
this doctrine, or believing that the apostasy of man has 
only given a shock to his moral and spiritual state, while it 
has left some principle, some stamina, by which he may 
raise himself up to the favor of God, and, without the 
foundation of a belief in total depravity, become a holy 
temple to the Lord, reconciles us to low ideas of Christ and 
his work, and preserves the pride and self-complacency 
which must be brought down before we can become 
partakers of the blessings of the Gospel. 

4 A want of conviction of this natural state of man, which 
constitutes the necessity of the w T onderful plan of the Gospel, 
is the reason why persons do not know what regeneration 
means, and why preachers preach so indistinctly upon it. 
Regeneration is the change in the natural state of man, the 
radical alteration of this character, the slaying of the enmity 
of the heart, (for " the carnal mind is enmity to God,") the 
bowing and renewing of the will. This change does not 
produce any new powers in the heart, but it changes the 
direction of the powers, the will, and the affections. It is 
the beginning of a new life, with new principles, new views, 
and new objects of delight and aversion. Without this 
change no one can see the kingdom of God. Make the 
tree good, and the fruit will be good ; but as long as the 


tree is corrupt the fruit will be corrupt. They who are in 
the flesh cannot please God. This cannot mean in the 
body, because of many such it has been known that they 
pleased God. Neither can it mean those who live in great 
sensuality, because emulation, wrath, strife are fruits of the 
flesh, as much as intemperance or sensuality. It means 
those who are in the state of their natural birth, as born of 
the flesh. Man cannot raise himself up, or produce the 
new birth. He may do much, if he will not resist and op- 
pose the plain truths of God, toward making himself sensible 
of his need of this birth ; but, in order to its being effected, 
he must bow and yield himself, as a poor, helpless, guilty, 
and justly condemned sinner, to sovereign grace. He must 
receive Christ as he is offered to him in the Gospel. Christ 
is the plank thrown out to sinners in their shipwreck, and 
they must grasp it by faith, and rest upon him, or they 
perish. To them who receive him, to them power is given 
to become the sons of God, even to them who believe in 
his name, who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the 
flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. We must submit 
to this righteousness of Christ. If we do not, however much 
zeal we may use to establish our own righteousness, we 
shall never attain to the law of holiness, and shall only 
compass ourselves about with sparks of our own kindling. 
The prophet Isaiah has said, such shall receive this at the 
hand of God, " that they shall lie down in sorrow." 

4 " If any man be in Christ," the Apostle says, " he is a 
new creature ; to be carnally minded is death, but to be 
spiritually minded is life and peace." Christians are God's 
workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which 
God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them. 
Till we are created in Christ Jesus, then, till we repent and 
believe in him, till we are regenerated, we cannot produce 
those good works, which God has before ordained, wherein 
Christians should walk. If you are at a loss upon the 
nature of regeneration, read Dr. Doddridge's sermons on 
that subject. 

428 dr. bucoiinster's correspondence 

1 You say, my dear child, that you have no idea of arriving 
in this world to any particular stage of goodness, but that all 
must be progress. If you mean a state of perfection, which 
your following remarks indicate, no one that is taught of 
God has any such idea. But we must commence a state of 
goodness ; we must change our master. The evil one must 
be cast out of us, and Christ must take possession of our 
hearts. We must not only have our hearts swept, but 
washed; "without holiness no man shall see the Lord." 
We shall not then think we have no more to do, but we shall 
think we can never do enough for him that hath loved us 
and washed us in his blood. We shall then work from life 
and love, and not for them. If we should attain that assu- 
rance which we are commanded to use all diligence to 
attain, so as not to be banished from God, we shall have an 
increased concern not to do any thing to grieve and offend 
him, and we shall have more ardent wishes to abound in the 
fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the 
praise and glory of God. 

'You say, my dear child, that you know that you are 
unworthy to come to the communion ; you would use it as 
a means ; and you ask if deferring it will make your sins 
less. If you have come to Christ, this is all the worthiness 
that any will ever have, — their sole title to this ordinance. 
You are unworthy to come to Christ, but his invitation and 
command removes the obstacle, and gives you a fair title 
to come ; and, however unworthy you are, if you do come, 
you shall be welcome, and all things shall work together 
for your good. Unworthiness never was an obstacle ; it is 
only unwillingness to come to the terms of the Gospel that 
ruins us. 

1 Nothing on earth could give me higher happiness than 
to have ground to believe that Christ was formed in the 
hearts of my children, — that they had truly given them- 
selves to the Lord ; then it would be a joy to me to have 
them enroll their names in the church committed to their 


father's care. But it matters little in what Christian records 
our names are written, if they are written in the Lamb's 
book of life. Some churches have departed from the funda- 
mental doctrines of the Gospel, but their corruptions will 
not destroy the comfort and usefulness of the ordinances, 
to those who with penitent and believing hearts partake of 

' If you are satisfied, my child, respecting your right to 
the ordinance, that you do indeed receive its Divine author 
as your Lord, that you can take up your cross and follow 
him in sincere and faithful allegiance, you had better not 
delay any longer to join your brother's church ; but let a 
father entreat you not to rest in a name to live, while you 
are dead ; not in a form of godliness without its power; — 
that power that shall bring every thought into captivity to 
the obedience of faith. Do not content yourself with that 
philosophic, speculative religion, which may give God much 
in profession and in ritual observances, but reserves the 
heart for the world, its fashions, and its customs. 

' I should have been too happy in this world had God 
led my children to see Divine truth as I think it ought to 
be discerned, and to hold fast what I conceive to be the 
truth as it is in Jesus. But he has suffered them, in my 
view, through the pride of science and the fascinations of 
philosophy, to be perverted from the truth, and to hold 
dangerous errors ; whether he will ever rescue them I know 
not : some have been recovered from these snares, there- 
fore I have hope. I must leave them with God. I have 
said every thing to my dear son that is profitable to be said. 
Nothing will convince him, and turn him from his errors, 
but that still small voice which followed the earthquake and 
the fire in the vision of Elijah and made the prophet wrap 
his face in his mantle. O that it would please God to grant 
you and him, and all my children, this efficient voice, that 
you might understand me, and I should no longer be to 
you such as you would not. But. I must give myself to 

430 dr. buckminster's correspondence 

4 1 am sorry for poor W. He was a faithful servant in 
my family many years ago. Give my love to him, and 
present him the inclosed.' 

' December, 1811. 

'My dear Child, — Since I had the pleasure of seeing 
you in Boston, or of hearing any thing directly from you, 
you have voluntarily associated yourself with the family 
and Church of Christ, and given yourself to him as your 
head and husband ; for the Church is his bride, purchased 
at an inestimable price, even the price of his precious blood. 
I hope you have felt yourself altogether unworthy of this 
honor, unworthy even to be placed among his servants, and 
that you have ventured upon this solemn transaction, be- 
cause he has called you, and constrained you to love him, 
and to prefer him to every other, even your chiefest joy. 
O, my daughter, if God has wrought you to this self-same 
thing, if he has formed you to this temper and affection, 
how happy are you ! How happy am I, to have one of my 
own children, the children of my dearest love, adopted into 
the family of Christ, into whose heart the spirit of adoption 
is poured so that you can with filial confidence ciy Abba, 
Father ! 

4 But you will permit the anxiety of a father to suggest to 
you that we must not rest upon any external observances, 
nor formal covenantings, however solemnly performed, as 
certain evidence of our gracious state, or of our title through 
grace to the Divine favor. There is no dispute with any 
who claim the title of Christians, that, " as God is a spirit, 
they who worship him must worship him in spirit and in 
truth." This claim, which we may not disdain nor dispute, 
is, 44 My son, give me thy heart." Let us give him what 
we may, if this be withheld, if his authority and pleasure 
be disputed, and other objects rival him in our love, we can- 
not belong to him nor he to us. 

4 It is our duty to profess religion. 4C With the heart man 
believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession 


is made unto salvation," but there is danger of resting in the 
confession, without a due concern that the faith that influ- 
ences it is seated in the heart, and commands and governs 
it. The Apostle Peter exhorts those whom he addresses 
as brethren, and who, therefore, must be considered as being 
of the visible family of Christ, to give diligence to make 
their calling and election sure, which must mean that call- 
ing which does insure eternal life, for he says, " So an en- 
trance shall be administered to you abundantly into the ever- 
lasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who 
is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. 1 ' Let a father 
entreat you, my dear child, to use diligence to add to your 
faith, virtue, that is, a holy, heavenly zeal and courage ; and 
to virtue, knowledge ; and to make your calling and election 
sure. If you ask me what this calling is, I know not that 
I can answer you better than in the words of that formula 
of religious truth and duty, which I regret I did not more 
carefully and diligently teach my children when they were 
young, and which I wish they would impartially study and 
compare with the word of God, now they are older. " Effec- 
tual calling is a work of God's spirit, whereby convincing 
us of our sin and miseiy, and enlightening our minds in the 
knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth per- 
suade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered 
to us in the Gospel." No one, I think, can object to this 
description of the calling of God that is unto salvation, who 
is not willing to be satisfied with a body without a soul, 
or with a shadow without the substance. Religion is the 
informing spirit of the heart, and shows its fruits in the life 
and conversation. It is our victory, overcoming the world 
and all that is in the world, as the lusts of the flesh, the 
lusts of the eye, and the pride of life, all which are not of 
religion, but of the world. There are indeed babes, young 
men, and fathers, in Christ ; but the babe has a principle 
of respect to Christ, though it may not be as strong and 
vigorous as in those who have the other titles. " The water 

432 dr. buckminster's correspondence 

that I shall give you," said he from whom all our good gifts 
must come, " shall be in you a well of water springing up to 
everlasting life." I hope that Christ rules in your heart and 
affections, and that, although you do not separate yourself 
from the world and the men of the world, yet that they are 
not the inmates of your heart, and your chosen companions, 
but that your delight is in the saints, the excellent of the 
earth, and that you love to retire from the cares and pleas- 
ures of the world to your Bible and your closet, that you 
may converse with Christ. 

' Although your father is a miserable sinner, who trusts 
that none of his children has so much offended God as 
he has done, yet he has hope that through grace he is 
a penitent sinner, and has found mercy with God ; and 
although he loathes himself for his iniquities, yet he knows 
from the Scripture that the least sinner must repent, if he 
would escape perdition. There may be different degrees 
or intensity of repentance, but it is of one nature. Your 
father is the channel by which you, my children, have 
derived corruption and depravity, and you are by nature 
children of wrath ; would your father not be a monster, if 
he did not strive with you till Christ be formed within you ? 
That he stands in doubt of you, he cannot disguise, and that 
he has more anxiety on this subject than upon any other, 
he cannot conceal. I ascribe righteousness to my Maker ; 
he is holy in all -that with which he sees fit to exercise me ; 
but I often ask, whether he is not punishing the vanity and 
ambition of your father in wishing his children to be dis- 
tinguished by intellectual attainments, by permitting them 
to embrace a philosophic religion, and hiding from them 
the true Gospel, and is thus granting my request by sending 
leanness into their souls. If this be so, Father in heaven 
forgive me and them ; and when we are corrected accord- 
ing to thy good pleasure, bring my children into the true 
way to adore Emanuel and enthrone him in their hearts ! 

fc You live, my dear daughter, in the atmosphere of 


liberality of principle ; your friends and visiters are Avians 
or Socinians, who are disposed to object to our common 
translation of the Scriptures, and thus impair their authority 
and influence upon the minds and hearts of those who can 
read no other. We may as well be without the Scriptures 
as not to have confidence in them, that they are a safe rule 
of faith and practice ; or to imagine that the things that are 
necessary to our salvation depend upon verbal criticism, or 
the wrangling of scholars who are striving for literary fame. 
I was astonished lately at the remark of a person on this 
subject, that " she could not use the Scriptures to judge of 
doctrines, unless she could read them in the original;" 
which is to render the Scriptures useless to far the greater 
portion of mankind. I hope the Socinian and Arian 
heresies are not inconsistent with the salvation of those who 
are staggered with them, but I cannot but tremble when I 
read the words of the Apostle Peter, 2d Epistle, ii. 4, — 
" There shall be false teachers among you, who privily 
shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord 
Jesus that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift 
destruction." If those who are affected with these senti- 
ments are subjects of spiritual regeneration, and do love 
God with a supreme love, and hate sin in its nature as well 
as in its consequences, they will be with God for ever ; 
they will never perish. But these errors are generally 
connected with such views of regeneration, repentance, 
faith, etc., as do not issue in such a state of mind and 
heart ; and they so diminish the evil of sin, and the 
immense sacrifice that it demanded, that I fear they will 
never produce this effect. 

4 You yourself must have observed that these sentiments 
abate the zeal ; they cool the ardor and solicitude of those 
that hold them, compared with those who hold contrary sen- 
timents ; they make them more satisfied with the form of 
godliness, where there is little evidence of the power of it ; 
they are rarely interested in subjects that address the heart 



or relate to the safety of the soul, and that grace of God by 
which its safety is insured ; the objects of their pursuit 
and ambition are in some sense or other worldly objects. 
This affords a strong suspicion that they err from the faith ; 
for truth sanctifies the soul, and they who are risen with 
Christ set their affections upon things above. 

' Whether these errors be consistent with a state of grace, 
or with the safety of the soul, I know not ; but this I know, 
that God can recover those that have fallen into them, for 
he has given such instances of his sovereign and triumphant 
grace. This is the hope, that, like a distant gleam of light, 
streaks the dark hemisphere that God has spread over me. 
That he will some time recover your brother from the snare 
in which he is entangled, and bring him to devote those 
powers and acquirements which have been given him, to 
display the glory of Christ as God, and the Saviour, and to 
build again what he has aided to destroy, is the prayer of 
my soul. Whether this be ever the case or not, God will 
be righteous, and I must leave it. I hope my children will 
not be so alienated from me as to lose their affection for 
me, because I am so anxious for their safety that I cannot 
but express a jealousy for them. 

4 1 do not censure you, my daughter, for professing 
religion and joining your brother's church ; but I must 
charge you, that you do not rest in that as evidence of your 
religion ; but see that you be renewed in the spirit of your 
mind, and possess a new nature as well as a new name. 
Let your heart be devoted to God. Covet the society of 
those that love Christ and are sincere in his praise. 

' I have written thus largely to you, my daughter, in the 
fulness of my heart. Can you think it is because I love 
you not ? God knoweth ! We shall probably never be 
much more together in this world. O, my child, let us be 
prepared to live with Christ in the world to come ! 



It will be seen, by the preceding letters, that neither 
father nor son had changed his views since the writing 
of the former letters previous to the settlement of the 
son. He, who had always felt too much reverence 
and childlike submission to his father to enter into 
controversy, or even to defend his own views, seems 
at length, in the last letter he ever wrote, to have re- 
solved to take up the other side ; or, as he expresses 
it, to present the opposite of that which he calls 'the 
revolting forms of Calvinism.' Had not death inter- 
vened, we might have been able to read in his own 
words the result of his life-long inquiries, — his faith- 
ful, thorough, and conscientious investigation of the 
texts and authorities upon which Calvinism rests its 
claims. Death interposed, and, within twenty-four 
hours of time, placed them face to face, without a 
veil between, where they could read the sublime and 
indelible characters of eternal truth. 

Perhaps it may not be arrogant to say, that this 
father and son presented an epitome of that greater 
controversy which afterwards divided the Church 
and community. It may here be seen, divested of 
all bitterness and wrath, and wrung reluctantly from 
both. Both were equal lovers of the truth, both 
sought it with a single purpose, and to both it was 
the vital element of thought ; and we do them only 
justice to believe, that, had they lived in an earlier 
age of the Church, both would have sealed their 
confession with their death. 

The father received his education at Yale College 
at the beginning of the war of the Revolution, when, 
to use the words of a son of Yale, ' The religions state 
of the college was very low, and it must have been 


from high spirituality of feeling that any young man 
would, at that time, devote himself to the ministry.' 
His own religious convictions were, however, at that 
time strong, deep, and lasting. We quote from an 
author who probably received the information from 
Dr. Buckminster himself, that, 'before he left New 
Haven, he was under deep conviction. He almost 
sank in despair, but obtained the glorious hope that 
he had passed from death unto life. It was then his 
purpose, as it was afterwards his greatest delight, to 
consecrate his time, his talents, his acquirements to 
the cause and interest of the Redeemer.'* It was at 
this time, doubtless, that he wrote the confession of 
faith and form of self-dedication to the service of 
God which appears on pages 20-25. This is a con- 
fession of pure Calvinism. That his views were 
afterwards somewhat modified appears from his not 
adopting the Assembly's Catechism for his eldest 
children ; and that these views had not the supreme 
importance in his mind at one period, may be inferred 
from the little prominence that is given to them in 
the prayers of the 'Piscataqua Prayer-Book.' From 
causes obvious to the writer, but which cannot be 
mentioned here, Dr. Buckminster became more anx- 
ious, in the last years of his life, to enforce his own 
peculiar Calvinistic faith ; and it cannot be asserted, 
that, at any time, there was any essential change 
from that early confession of faith. After his settle- 
ment over a parish, he certainly did not pursue any 
critical or Biblical studies, except in the common 
version of the English Bible. The writer does not 

* Rev. Timothy Alden, of Portsmouth. 


recollect his ever reverting to any other. His parish 
was large, and he was extremely devoted to parish 
duties. He could not be called a student, in any 
sense of the word, except so far as writing sermons 
requires study. He wrote a large, a very large, num- 
ber of sermons, and probably made some mental 
preparation for his extemporaneous addresses. But 
his library and study-table furnished none of the 
means, as his constant devotion to his parish left no 
leisure, for critical researches or learned investigation; 
and, in his letters to his daughter, he deprecates ' the 
pride of science and the wrangling of scholars,' and 
avows the English Bible sufficient for all purposes of 
the knowledge of God. 

The early years of his son were passed under all 
the influences of his father's faith, enforced and 
strengthened by the example of his father's devout 
and eminently pious life; and we have seen that his 
own genial nature was not susceptible of gloom or 
superstition, although he was at a very early age a 
thoughtful and deeply reflective youth. The religion 
that he learned from his father was associated with 
all his youthful feelings of devotion, and was proba- 
bly very dear to his young affections. It must have 
been by gradual processes, as his understanding and 
reason developed and his inquiries advanced, that Cal- 
vinism lost its hold upon his affections, as it did upon 
his intellect. 

We have seen that he was well acquainted with 
the languages in which the Scriptures were written, 
and one of the most distinguished classical scholars 
that Harvard ever sent forth from its honored shades. 
It must have been from the love of truth, that he was 



led to investigate conscientiously, as he did, the 
original meaning of the words in which the Bible 
was written ; to compare texts and commentators ; to 
go back to the very fountain-head ; to procure the 
earliest copies of the Scriptures, and to spend days, 
and weeks, and months, and years in efforts to restore 
the text to its original purity, with all the helps he 
could derive, not only from Biblical scholars, the 
ancient fathers, and the earliest teachers of the 
Church, but by the help also of learned commentators 
upon what are called the profane writers. He made 
the Greek language his study till the day of his 
death, in order to give its help to his conscientious 
inquiries; and although his principles of interpreta- 
tion, and many of his reasonings, are not those of a 
large number of Biblical critics, his candor, and hon- 
esty, and sincerity have never been called in question. 
An extract from his journal will show that he made 
the daily duty of domestic worship a subsidiary aid 
to his own studies and researches. It is immediately 
after his settlement: — l I have commenced reading 
Doddridge's Family Expositor in the morning, before 
family prayers ; I read the text and notes, with the 
improvement, before the domestics are called in to 
hear the prayer. After breakfast, I examine the diffi- 
cult passages in other commentators, especially in 
Whitby, and read the original Greek, and Wakefield's 
or some other translation.' 

His library was dispersed, by public sale, after his 
death; but could some of the books that were his 
daily study have been preserved together, it would 
have been seen how faithful and exact was his read- 
ing. He read with pencil or pen in his hand, and 


many of his books were interleaved for the purpose 
of making his own remarks or those of others as he 
read. An interleaved Grotius De Veritate is now in 
the possession of the writer, which shows his careful 
and faithful research. It will be seen in the Appen- 
dix that he was lavish in his expenditure to procure 
ancient copies of the Scriptures, and that his little 
fortune was spent in obtaining the books which he 
felt were requisite to enable him to come to a know- 
ledge of the truth. His researches sent him back 
behind synods and councils ; behind King James's 
translation of the Bible ; behind Calvin and Luther, 
Athanasius and St. Augustine, to the simplicity of 
the primitive Church, to the faith of the Apostles 
and the teaching of Christ. That with all these aids, 
and this faithful study, the son's investigations re- 
sulted in a firm and decided faith in that form of 
Christianity which has since been called Unitarian- 
ism, and that it was painful to both father and son 
thus to differ, is equally honorable to both. Both 
were lovers of truth, both conscientious, and yet they 
differed toto ccelo in their speculative belief. Who 
shall say that the son was not as honest and sincere 
as the father ? that conscience and honor did not 
enter as fully into his studies as into those of his 
father? that devotion to God, and love to man, were 
not as much the moving springs in his, as in his 
father's soul ? 

The results to which each had come they both 
taught unreservedly, — the son with as much open- 
ness as the father, but without giving himself a 
name ; and perhaps it was the wish and hope of those 
who early departed from Calvinism to receive no sec- 


tarian name, — to belong to that anti-sectarian sect, 
e whose religion,' according to Dr. Kirkland, 'con- 
sisted in being religious.' His preaching met the 
wants of the multitudes who thronged, to hear him. 
Those who had found Calvinism insufficient for the 
wants of the soul, and were tempted, like the young 
person to whose letter he refers, ' to wish, that, if 
such representations of Christianity were a just pic- 
ture of what should be a most beneficent religion, 
they would be glad to find it not true,' — such persons 
were nourished and made better by his preaching. 

The truth, in relation to father and son, seemed 
to demand that the above remarks should be made, 
not because, in the humble view of the writer, Cal- 
vinism or Unitarianism are essential forms of Chris- 
tianity, but in anticipation of that time, when religion 
will not be wholly concerned with speculative doc- 
trines, but with the life of truth ; and that life not 
manifested by the mere externals of particular forms 
or even of charities, but by the beauty of holiness, — 
the exhibition of the beauty of the perfect law, the 
life of God in the soul of man. 





I8ii. In May of 1811 died the Rev. William 

Aged 27. Emerson, pastor of the First Church in Bos- 
ton. This church, and that in Brattle Street, had 
been associated together in the interchange of their 
sacramental lectures, each pastor preaching in the 
pulpit of the other in the afternoon of the Sabbath of 
the Lord's Sapper. This was an endearing inter- 
change of ministerial duties, and, to one as susceptible 
of all Christian charities as was the pastor of Brattle 
Street, it was sufficient to bind Mr. Emerson to him 
in tender relations. My brother preached the funeral 
sermon, and, in reverting to the circumstance that the 
pastors of the two churches had alternately officiated 
at each other's obsequies, a prophetic foreboding 
escaped him, that he should next follow his brother. 
A personal feeling of regretful resignation selected 
the words which he introduced towards the close of 
the sermon, — 

* 0, 't is well 
With him ! But who knows what the coming hour, 
Veiled in thick darkness, brings for us ? ' 


In this sermon he spoke of the value of posthumous 

' Thouo-h one of the most common, it is still one of the 
sweetest, rewards of acknowledged and respected virtue, to 
leave the minds of survivors turning involuntarily towards 
the contemplation of that worth which they are no longer 
to enjoy. Then the excellences of the departed take full 
possession of our imaginations ; and we find ourselves 
engaged in calling up their merits, which, because we 
had so little fear of losing, we had, perhaps, undervalued, 
or not fully regarded. Then, when we find them no more 
in the places which once knew them, recollection is busy 
about the spots which they frequented, and there start up 
a thousand affecting remembrances of their character and 
manners. When we are called upon to supply their places, 
the task is found more painful and difficult than we had 
imagined ; and we begin to wish that we had valued them 
more, and loved them better, as well as enjoyed them 
longer. The void left by the death of good men time does 
not fill, indeed, but only throws further back into the 
retrospect. We come to their last obsequies with unwonted 
fondness ; our lips are ready to show forth their praise ; our 
affections linger about their graves ; we feel more than ever 
that we are " strangers and pilgrims on the earth," and wish 
more than ever to " die the death of the righteous. 1 ' 

4 This sentiment of posthumous regard, so tender, and 
yet so strong, is the reward only of genuine worth, and is 
entirely different from those demonstrations of respect which 
are paid to men who have enjoyed the more distinction 
during life the less intimately they were known, and whom 
we consent to bury with honor, to avoid the further expres- 
sion of our real opinion. He whose remains are now before 
us has left many bowed down with unaffected grief, who 
come prepared and willing now to dwell awhile on his 
character. Affection and faithful memory, therefore, will 


supply whatever may be wanting in the following remarks, 
which are made with something of that restraint which 
would be felt if the departed were capable of now listening 
to the speaker. For there is something sacred in the 
presence of his remains, to which reverence and modesty 
are due, no less than truth and affection.' 

In October of this year died the Hon. James Bow- 
doin. He had ever been a member of. and a bene- 
factor to, the church of Brattle Street.* It was in his 
family that the pastor of Brattle Street was received 
with so much kindness, while the former was ambas- 
sador, and the latter was visiting Paris in 1S(J6. To 
him, and to Mrs. Bowdoin, was he continually in- 
debted for the expression of a warm and most affec- 
tionate friendship. A part of the sermon preached 
the Sabbath after his interment was published, the 
closing paragraphs of which are here inserted. 

'But I see before me an object f which admonishes us that 
the usual time of service has elapsed, while we have been 
speaking of him whose name it bears. Once it reminded 
us of his bounty ; now it reminds us of his departure. Once 
it told us that he remembered us; now it calls on us to 
remember him. Lately it measured the hand-breadth of 

his age, as it now measures our own ; but to him 

hours and weeks and days and years revolve no more ! He 
has entered on an unmeasurable period ! 

'How fair an emblem is this of man himself; — always 

* Mr. Bowdoin, in his will, left fifty pounds to the church in Brat- 
Square, and fifty to the. pastor. 

f The former clock in the church in Brattle Square was given by 
Governor Bowdoin ; but as it was old and much out of repair, the late 
Mr. Bowdoin replaced it not long before his death by the present 


passing on, yet unconscious of his own motion ! When we 
fix our attention on the moment which is passing, we seem 
to arrest it. We discern no lapse. All appears stationary, 
and the time is long and tedious. But let us withdraw our 
attention from the dial, and yield ourselves for a few 
moments to the usual succession of thoughts, and when 
we return again to examine the index of our time, what a 
space has been traversed ! 

4 Is it possible that a minute can be made to appear so 
long by attention ? How long, then, might the whole of 
life be made to appear, would we but attend to it, and 

vigilantly mark and improve the hours ! But that 

steady monitor proceeds, whether we mark or not its motion. 
Here, in the place of our solemnities, it measures off some 
of the most important portions of life. Presently the 
shadows of the evening will rest on this holy place, and 
this house be emptied of its worshippers. Presently, after 
a few more revolutions of those unconscious indexes, not 
one of these worshippers will be heard of on earth. The 
places which now know them will know them no more for 
ever ; and when it is asked, Where are they ? the answer 
must be, They are gone to appear before God ! 

1 Lord, make us to know the measure of our days 

to mark the shadow of our lives ! For man that is born of 
woman fleeth as a shadow and continueth not.' 

One other production of his pen belonging to this 
year or the preceding, is a memorial addressed to the 
Overseers of the College, upon the subject nearest his 
heart, a professorship of sacred literature. This is an 
eloquent paper ; but as the object, holding in his esti- 
mation so profound an interest, was this year effected, 
this memorial could have had but a passing interest. 

His sermons this year were not inferior in interest 
to any that he had preached. By a memorandum, 


preserved among his papers, it appears that he wrote, 
in the course of the year, fifty-seven, and preached in 
his own pulpit sixty-nine times. 

4 This year, 1811, he received a proof of the estimation 
in which his knowledge in his favorite walk of study was 
held, by his appointment as first lecturer on Biblical criti- 
cism, upon the foundation established by the Hon. Samuel 
Dexter. This appointment was universally thought to be 
an honor most justly due to his preeminent attainments in 
this science. 1 * 

His reply to the letter of appointment was as fol- 
lows : — 

1 To the Rev. Dr. Kirkland, President of the University in 
Cambridge : — 

4 Sir, — I have received from you the official notice of 
my unexpected appointment to the office of first lecturer 
on the Dexter foundation. The trustees will please to 
accept my acknowledgments for the honor which they have 
conferred, and of which you, Sir, have informed me in a 
manner that deserves my gratitude. Nothing, beside the 
customary pleas of want of leisure and abilities, has occur- 
red to me as a peculiar objection to my acceptance of this 
duty, except the previous conviction that the introductory 
lectures, on this difficult subject, should be entrusted to some 
one whose age and acknowledged merits in theology would 
gain for them more consideration than will probably be 
secured by the present appointment. 

' If this suggestion has already received the full considera- 
tion which it seems to me to deserve, and of which, but for 
the result of your meeting, I should have no doubt, I am 
ready to submit to the final opinion of those whom I have 

* Thacher's Memoir. 


always been accustomed to respect, and, if they should 
so determine, prepare myself, as well as the time allowed, 
and my own health, will permit, to execute the duties of 
the appointment.' 

My brother received this appointment with the 
highest gratification ; although there is no doubt of 
the sincerity and real diffidence with which he sug- 
gested that some older theologian should deliver 
the introductory lectures. He began an extensive 
preparation with the greatest ardor, and by a minute 
review of his former reading. He immediately sent 
a large order to Germany for books, and began the 
study of the German language with such intensity 
of interest as to deprive him of sleep. Every hour 
of the day was occupied with its appropriate duty ; 
but, to secure the acquisition of German, he made the 
effort of rising two hours earlier in the morning, 
intending to retire earlier at night. The master was 
engaged for six o'clock in the morning, and the pupil 
was usually ready ; but it was impossible to keep the 
second part of the resolution, — that of retiring early. 
Like all persons of ardent and nervous temperament, 
the fear of sleeping too late, and the intensity of inter- 
est in a new study, deprived him of the blessed re- 
freshment of sleep, at the very time he most needed 
its restorative powers. His sister writes, in a letter 
of this date : — c Joseph, I fear, will make himself ill, 
for he has taken it into his head to study German, 
and, for this purpose, has a master with him from six 
to eight o'clock in the morning. It is true he has 
generally gone to bed rather before his regular time ; 
but he is so much interested, that he sleeps very 


It was in consequence of the appointment of lec- 
turer that he began the study of German. It appears, 
by a letter to Dr. Herbert Marsh, of the preceding 
year, that it had been hitherto precluded by other 

'May 18th, 1810. 

'Sir, — I have no excuse to offer for the presumption 
of directing these lines to you, except admiration of your 
learning, gratitude for your labors, and the persuasion 
that it will not be disagreeable to you to receive from this 
remote region an edition of Griesbach's Greek Testament, 
executed with care and accuracy. It is copied, page for 
page, from Goschen's octavo edition, Leipsic, ^05, which 
I was so fortunate as to bring with me from Europe, and 
to persuade the government of our University, at Cambridge, 
to reprint and introduce as a text-book. The young gentle- 
man who gives you this note * is intended for a preacher, 
and proposes to finish his studies at Edinburgh. But, as 
soon as I learned that you had commenced a course of 
lectures at Cambridge, I admitted the hope that some of my 
young countrymen might have the privilege of hearing 
them ; upon what terms this may be obtained I have re- 
quested him to inquire, and, if possible, avail himself of 
this opportunity. 

'I had the happiness of spending a few days at Cam- 
bridge in the summer of 1807, but you were absent. By 
the kindness of Dr. Abthorp, and his friends, of Emanuel 
College, I received every attention, which I remember with 
the utmost kindness and gratitude. But, Sir, I feel under 
inexpressible obligations to you for the translation of 
Michaelis, which has made a new era in my mind, and I 
am almost ashamed to express the impatience with which 
I anticipate the conclusion of your notes. 

4 Such is the extent of my parish, and the variety of m> 

* Rev. Francis Parkman, D. D., of Boston. 


duties to that, as well as to society at large, that I have 
neither time nor courage at present for the acquisition of 
the German language. And yet there are several points 
of theological inquiry which I burn to explore, and I would 
willingly relinquish all knowledge of French for this single 
acquisition. But at present I feel condemned to painful 
ignorance, encouraging myself with the hope that you, or 
some of your pupils, will soon do that for Eichhorn which 
you have done so well for Michael is.' 

It would be perhaps a fruitless wish to endeavor to 
give the reader an idea of the intensity of interest 
with which he pursued his new study, and all the 
studies connected with his new object. His love of 
study had always been the passion of his soul, and 
accounts for a peculiarity of manner mentioned by 
his former biographer. 

' Though he was eminently and habitually cheerful,' says 
Mr. Thacher, ' there were occasional inequalities in his 
manner ; and there were moments when there appeared 
in him a sort of reserve, and want of interest in those 
about him, which made his character misunderstood by 
some who, if they had known him more, would have found 
him formed to enD-age all their esteem and love. These 
occasional departures from his habitual manners were, I 
am confident, to be traced to his bodily indisposition. Many 
of his friends, who have entered his room when he was 
suffering under this effect of disease, well remember, that, 
after a few moments' conversation, he would shake off the 
oppression of his languor, his wonted smile would play over 
his features, that peculiar animation which usually lighted 
up his countenance would again break out, and he would 
enter into any subject proposed with the warmest and 
liveliest interest.' 


I should give a different solution of his apparent 
absence of manner at some moments. He was a 
thorough student. His heart was in his studies. 
When he was employed with his books, during the 
day, he was perpetually withdrawn from them by 
the various interruptions of business and friends. 
When, therefore, he was broken in upon, while his 
attention was wholly absorbed by some favorite study, 
he could not immediately recover the elasticity of his 
mind, and enter into a subject wholly foreign, or into 
the cares or the pleasures of his visiter. That he had 
moments of deep depression, when he reflected upon 
the probable consequences of his malady, is, no doubt, 
true ; but he never allowed himself in any morbid 
contemplation of possible evils. His faith in the 
beneficence of God was the ruling influence of his 
mind. I cannot so well describe his intellectual 
habits as in the words of the elegant biography to 
which I have been so often indebted. 

1 In his intellectual habits, I do not remember to have 
remarked any singularity. He was a real student. He 
had that first requisite of all true and durable greatness, — 
the habit of patient and long-continued attention. He 
possessed the genuine (piXonoivia, the love of labor for itself. 
He could delight in the driest and most minute researches, 
as well as in the lofty and ethereal visions of fancy. Like 
the majority of men of learning, he loved to read more than 
to think, and to think more than to write. He composed 
with rapidity, but with intellectual toil ; and his best efforts 
were not made without a high degree of mental excitement. 
If I were required to state, in one word, in what branch of 
knowledge his excellence was most conspicuous, I should 
say it was philology, — understanding by this word the 



knowledge of language as an instrument of thought, in all 
its propriety and force, as well as in all its shades and 
varieties of meaning ; in its general theory, as well as in 
its modifications in different countries ; and, finally, in all its 
grace and beauty, as it is fitted to invest truth in its richest 
and most attractive dress. 

' But it was the light which philology pours on the records 
of our faith and hope, which gave it its chief value to the 
mind of Mr. Buckminster. It was the study of the Scrip- 
tures in their original languages, which most powerfully 
seized and occupied his attention, and engaged him in a 
course of inquiries which he never thought himself at 
liberty long to desert. He was always of opinion that 
the principles of Christianity, in their original purity and 
simplicity, were to be preserved where they are already 
held, and recalled where they are lost or obscured, only 
by the study of the Bible, according to the maxims of a 
sound, and enlightened, and cautious criticism. One of 
his strongest passions was a desire to diffuse a love of 
Biblical studies ; and the impulse, among us, which has 
lately been given to inquiries on these subjects, is to be 
attributed to his exertions and example.' * 

To the above I am permitted to add the testimony 
of one who knew him well, and who was eminently 
able to appreciate his attainments. f 

' Mr. Buckminster was a thorough scholar, and always a 
diligent student. In theology, he belonged to the class of 
liberal inquirers. But, though deeply sensible of his duty 
to derive his faith from the Christian Scriptures, and un- 
willing to submit his understanding to the dictation of 
others, he had too strong a mind, and far too much learn- 
ing, as well as too profound a sense of responsibility, to 

# Thacher's Memoir. f Mr. William "Wells. 


permit of his embracing any of those wild opinions which 
are supposed, by those who hold them, to be modern dis- 
coveries, but which he knew had been long ago examined 
and refuted. He was thoroughly acquainted with the writings 
of the eminent English Unitarians of the last century, and 
held them in high estimation, not only for having done so 
much towards the introduction and establishment of liberal 
inquiries in England, but as having introduced into this 
country those principles of Scripture interpretation which 
have spread so widely, and to the support and dissemination 
of which he himself contributed so eminently and largely.' 

The various accounts which have been given of 
my brother's studies indicate very distinctly the 
character of his intellect ; they enable us to anticipate 
what he would have accomplished had his life been 
spared, and the influence he might have exerted upon 
the literature of the country. His mind was not of 
that lofty character which can dwell perpetually in 
abstractions, and win for itself glory in metaphysical 
and mathematical science. His mind was rapid and 
clear in its operations, and both inventive and illustra- 
tive ; correct, acute, and thorough in criticism. He 
was able to compass, by a rapid intellectual survey, 
directed by quick moral perceptions, that which the 
moral reasoner arrives at by slow and laborious pro- 
cesses. I avail myself here of the words of a friend 
and classmate,^ in describing the character of his 

' I confine myself,' says his friend, ' principally to lite- 
rature, in the limited and appropriate signification of the 
term. He was not a man of science, as that term is techni- 

# Rev. Joshua Bates, D. D. 


cally used. The mathematics he did not love. He had no 
taste for abstract studies, and in this early part of his life he 
manifested an aversion to metaphysical speculations and 
transcendental nights of fancy. It is true, he made himself 
acquainted with what may be called the " literature of sci- 
ence." He knew the origin, the progress, the state, indeed 
the whole history, of every science of the age. He could 
tell who made each discovery, and who was the inventor 
of the instruments, and what were the appliances by which 
it was made. He could speak learnedly of the character 
and merits of the philosophers of all ages and countries, 
and beautifully illustrate the topics of literature on which 
he descanted by appropriate allusions to the success of 
scientific principles. But here his intercourse with the 
sciences, especially the abstract sciences, ended. The 
principles themselves he never investigated. The details 
of classification and the tedious steps of demonstration he 
never pursued. He had no taste for the study of the pure 
mathematics, nor did he relish at all the tardy and en- 
tangled processes of logical deduction and metaphysical 

4 At the period of our college life, very little oral instruc- 
tion was imparted to the students. Two public lectures 
were delivered, and no familiar illustrations were given in 
connection with the study of the prescribed text-books. 
Of course, the acquisitions of students depended very much 
on their own efforts and ingenuity. Every one had much 
time to devote to studies of his own choice, and the educa- 
tion obtained by any was, much more than at present, 
self-education. The kind and degree of each one's attain- 
ment corresponded very nearly with his taste, capacity, and 
efforts, his genius and industry. This fact made Mr. Buck- 
minster a man of literature rather than of science ; a scholar 
of high order, but not of universal attainments ; a man of 
learning as well as genius, but not distinguished for deep 
research and analytical investigation ; a model in matters 


of taste, grammatical accuracy, and rhetorical beauty, but 
not in logical deduction, abstract reasoning, and philosophi- 
cal criticism. 

1 1 should speak of the fixedness of his attention to the 
chosen objects of his contemplation, and the perfect com- 
mand which he possessed over the current of his associated 
thoughts, as the first and most obvious quality of his mind. 
His perceptive powers were quick and excursive. This has 
already been stated with reference to the rapid movement 
and far-searching glance of his eye. But the statement 
should not be confined to the sense of sight. The remark 
might be extended with truth to all his organs and powers 
of perception, for they were all connected with a keen and 
delicate sensibility, and directed by an irrepressible desire 
of knowledge. 

' Of the principles of association, on which memory and 
imagination, comparison and the processes of reasoning 
depend, as they were developed in his mind and exercised 
in his literary career, by which he acquired knowledge so 
easily and rapidly, and by which his acquisitions were held 
so firmly, and held in such distinct classification as to be 
always ready for appropriate use, — of these principles, as 
they existed in his mind, I should say they were those which 
belong to the poet rather than the philosopher. His mind 
moved, indeed, habitually under the control of the will, 
and, with a self-command rarely possessed, he was able to 
exclude from it every unwelcome thought and intruding 
idea, and his associations were such as fitted him to excel 

in literature His imagination was at once excursive 

and brilliant, chaste, correct, and rich in its combinations, 
furnishing copious materials for rhetorical embellishment. 
Indeed, it may be affirmed, though he did not write poetry, 
he was " born a poet," and possessed all the elements of 
poetic genius. Had he been willing, in his literary career, 
to stop at the foot of Parnassus and drink largely of the 
waters of the Castalian fount, and sport long with the Muses 


that play on its banks, he might have been inspired with the 
spirit of poetry, and have become in his day the Poet of 

' In conclusion, I subjoin the following strong but sincere 
remark. Anions all mv literarv friends in college, and 
during; a Ions; life of familiarity with men distinguished in 
the several departments of learning and the learned pro- 
fessions in various parts of our country, I have never found 
one who seemed to me to possess more of that indescribable 
character of mind, or rather, I should say, a more complete 
combination of those intellectual powers and susceptibilities 
which we usually denominate genius, than Joseph Stevens 
Buck3Iixster. I have known men of more universal scholar- 
ship and men of more dazzling wit : indeed, I was about to 
make an exception in favor of Fisher Ames, who, in some 
respects, especially in the sudden bursts of eloquence, and 
the brilliant train of thought, and rich display of metaphor, 
which marked his public speeches and even his private con- 
versation, certainly excelled all men of my acquaintance. 
But notwithstanding this modification, I can make no essen- 
tial abatement from the general statement expressive of my 
admiration of Buckminster's genius. He, indeed, furnished 
my standard of genius ; for his was a genius pure and 
elevated, steady and uniform in its movements, exempt 
from the depressions of morbid sensibility and the erratic 
nights of spasmodic action.' 

Those pursuits which were entirely voluntary, dis- 
connected, with the wide field of duty, the little gar- 
den of delight reserved for his leisure hours, — if he 
may be said to have had any leisure hours, — were the 
study of the ancient classics, particularly the Greek 
and Latin poets. In this connection I cannot refuse 
myself the pleasure of introducing:, although it is 
somewhat out of place, the description of his transla- 


tion of a passage of Homer when he was only thirteen 
years old. 

4 1 remember, in particular,' says the friend just referred 
to, ' his admirable reading and translation of a long passage 
in the Iliad of Homer. He read the Greek as if it had 
been his vernacular language, with ease, pliancy, and 
expressiveness, and his translation was at once free and 
accurate, neat and comprehensive, perspicuous and elegant. 
Indeed, the very soul of the poet seemed to be infused into 
the beautiful and expressive language of the translator. I 
had never heard Homer so read and so translated, and the 
admiration felt by me was evidently felt by all present. 1 

Here, perhaps, some few remarks may be appro- 
priate upon the sermons, which now remain as the 
only evidence of the character and genius which, by 
the consent of all who knew him, have been ascribed 
to my brother. His active ministry, excluding the 
time he passed in Europe, amounted to six years. 
In that time, he wrote about two hundred and forty 
sermons. It may, in truth, be said that it is not what 
one accomplishes in life, but what one is, which con- 
stitutes greatness; something there is in the character 
which outruns all the performance. Campbell lived 
to old age, and wrote a great number of books ; but 
his Hope, his Gertrude of Wyoming, and his death- 
less songs alone, will tell to future ages that Campbell 
lived. Goethe said to Eckermann, 'Haifa million 
of my own money, the fortune I inherited, my salary, 
and the large income derived from my writings for 
fifty years, have been expended to make me what I 
now am.' Of the sermons in question, it has been 
well said that none of them seem to be the result of 


any extraordinary effort, like the grand sermons of 
Robert Hall, or some of the splendid performances of 
Dr. Charming; 'but they are rather the usual and 
easy production of a mind, whose ordinary move- 
ments were high and beautiful, and which left its 
own impress of genius upon all its works.' They 
are character passed into thought, — 'earnest feeling, 
steeped in that beauty which emanates from genius 
inspired by faith.' No one of the sermons, therefore, 
surpasses very much the others. They are the ordi- 
nary expression of his usual train of thought. Of the 
sermons which remain unpublished, there is scarcely 
one which does not contain passages of eminent 
beauty and power. The efforts of such a mind can- 
not be measured. The diurnal rule of such a life is 

In speaking of his sermons, also, the peculiar charm 
and power of his oratory should never be omitted. 
1 The impression they made depended, in no small 
degree, upon the distinctness of articulation, the pro- 
priety of pronunciation, the melody of intonation, 
the power of emphasis and expression, together with 
the perfect symmetry of action and completeness 
of enunciation.' The remarks of a classmate # are 
here quoted in proof of the power and charm of his 

' At the close of the meeting of a " Composition Club," 
where he had been the reader of the anonymous pieces 
drawn from the secret box, it was remarked, " When 
Buckminster reads, all the compositions are good." No 
one, as it seemed to me, could read like him, and give to 

* Rev. Dr. Bates. 


every letter its full power, to every syllable its distinct 
weight, to every word its just emphasis and appropriate 
modulation, to every phrase and sentence their precise 
meaning, their complete and expressive import. His excel- 
lent reading was, indeed, the foundation of his enchanting 
eloquence, and his eloquent delivery gave the crowning 
glory to his compositions. Were you now to go about 
among the elderly members of the Brattle Street congre- 
gation, and ask them what they think of Mr. Buckminster's 
published sermons, they would, I think, tell you, that, 
excellent as they consider these discourses, they are alto- 
gether inferior to many which they heard him preach. 
They might not be aware of the cause of this inferiority ; 
but to the philosophic mind, accustomed to analyze, that 
cause must be obvious at once. It is found in his delivery, 
— his excellent reading, combined with the beauty of his 
person and his appropriate action, — in the various qualities 
which, united, go to form complete elegance and constitute 
a perfect orator. Such truly was Buckminster. His enun- 
ciation and expression, his brilliant eye, the mingled sweet- 
ness and strength, solemnity and cheerfulness, intelligence 
and pathos, which continually pervaded and animated his 
whole countenance while speaking, gave to his discourses 
more than half their charm, and enabled him to exert an 
absolute control over the feelings of his audience. 

' If it were proper to apply the term beauty in describing 
the personal appearance of any man, I should say, that no 
man ever possessed in a higher degree than he the elements 
of this quality. And the influence which this had on his 
popularity as a public speaker, and even as a preacher, 
was, as I have intimated, by no means unimportant. It 
ought not therefore to be omitted, in an attempt to delineate 
his character as an orator. As he stood in the pulpit and 
delivered his message, you could discover no defect in 
form or manner, in attitude or movement, in utterance or 
" expression ; — all was symmetry, propriety, elegance. He 



was indeed a model as a pulpit orator, and his personal 
charm and eloquence of manner forcibly illustrated to my 
mind, by positive example, the wisdom of that negative 
injunction of the Levitical law, " No man that hath a 
blemish of the seed of Aaron the priest, shall come nigh 
to offer the offerings of the Lord." ' 

Few are living who can remember his appearance 
in the pulpit. Its chief characteristic was that of 
deeply felt, calm, but fervent devotion. His prayers, 
of which a large number remain among his papers, in 
the earliest part of his ministry, were written and 
committed to memory. They are marked by sim- 
plicity and appropriate Scripture language. They 
express the wants, the longings, the contrition, the 
aspiration, and the gratitude of deeply experienced 
human hearts. His object in writing his prayers 
seems to have been to make them the true devotion 
of the soul, the expression of the intellect as well as 
the heart. They were uttered with a calm, unim- 
passioned fervor, which contrasted with the animated 
and exhilarating tone of the sermon. The music of 
the hymn, as it came from his ' melodious voice,' was 
felt in newer and deeper meanings imparted to every 
sentiment, opening to the hearer a new sense in the 
ear and in the soul. 

Of the sermons which have been published, it is 
but just to regard them as the compositions of early 
life, called forth by the ordinary occasions of every 
passing week. Had he lived, probably not one of the 
sermons, as now printed, would have been given to 
the press. He steadily resisted all applications to 
print his sermons during his life, only two having 
been yielded to the requests of the hearers, — those 


on the deaths of Governor Sullivan and Rev. William 
Emerson. It was his habit to write more than once 
on the same subject. Sermons written in 18U4 were 
rewritten in 1S08; and as his mind expanded, and 
the same theme was clothed with thoughts of greater 
depth and power, he would have subjected them to a 
severe revisal, or he would have enriched them with 
passages of greater energy and beauty, as his own 
mind became enriched with inward illumination or 
with the acquisitions of time. 

It has been already mentioned, that the cares of 
his ministry increased in great disproportion to the 
increase of his strength. After his appointment to 
the lectureship at Cambridge, he redoubled his exer- 
tions, and began, as has been mentioned, to study 
another language. This, with the kindred subjects 
to which it led, interested him so deeply as to deprive 
him of sleep ; but to his friends he had never ap- 
peared more brilliant, more equal to every duty, more 
animated and efficient, than immediately before his 
last illness. The seizure was as unexpected as it was 
sudden. The last letter he ever wrote to his father 
follows. It seems to have been elicited by anxiety 
respecting the speculations of one of his family, and 
it mentions cursorily the unusual lassitude which he 
felt at the approach of warm weather. 

'April 23d, 1812. 

'My dear Father, — I have just seen a letter from , 

the reading of which has affected me with the most gloomy 
thoughts. She is now experiencing something of what I 
have myself felt in former years, — the unhappiness of 
seeing her parent cast down and troubled with the thought 


that his children are given up " to believe a lie ; " while 
Christianity is continually presented to her, either in a form 
which she does not understand, or which, as far as she 
does understand it, seems unworthy of the reception of a 
rational creature, or of the authority of a holy and bene- 
ficent Father. From some expressions in her letter, I 
began to be afraid that her faith in the divine origin of the 
Gospel was shaken, and that, having it continually pre- 
sented to her mind in the revolting forms of Calvinism, she 
was willing to wish, that, if such representations of Chris- 
tianity were a just picture of what should be a most 
beneficent religion, she would be glad to find it not true. 
Such a result, though I know it is by no means uncommon, 
I should most earnestly deprecate in any one of my rela- 
tions. I hope she will have more strength of mind than to 
fall into such a state of feeling, and that God will enable 
her to know the truth and value of the revelation of his 
Son Jesus Christ, though she may find it difficult to con- 
ceive of doctrines which others represent as its essential 

6 I know, my dear Sir, that you would see with anguish 
her mind so perplexed by the views of Calvinistic Chris- 
tianity, as to become indifferent to the news of eternal life 
by Jesus Christ, which, I hope, will never cease to be the 
object of her dearest love and gratitude, and that she will 
go to the Father by him who has promised to guide us into 
all necessary truth. 

' It is my misfortune to be encompassed with a cloud of 
business, more, I fear, than I can properly attend to, with 
justice to myself or my parishioners. But while my health 
lasts, I dare not refuse any exertion by which we may hope 
to diffuse the blessing of the truth, or to benefit our fellow- 
men. We are now forming a society for the improvement 
of seamen. Is it not worthy attention in every respect ? 
I am persuaded that no class of persons are more suscep- 
tible of deep and permanent religious impressions than 
those who follow the sea. 


1 1 do not write often, because my sister supplies all my 
deficiencies in that respect. If I felt that my silence was 
the consequence of any diminution of interest or affection 
for you or yours, I should be very unhappy. My health 
has been very good through the winter, but I have found 
myself uncommonly sensible to the relaxing approach of 
warm weather. I do not contemplate any journey before 
the middle of June, when I hope to see you in your own 
home. Your dear son, 

'J. S. B.' 

Thus closed the correspondence between father 
and son. That frail health, which he thought it his 
duty not to spare, was already deeply undermined, 
and the words with which he closed his letter had a 
prophetic meaning. He did meet his father before the 
middle of June, in that father's own home, where, we 
may surely believe, they were never separated again. 

Soon after the date of that letter, came on the 
week, — the so-called election week in Boston, — so 
crowded with business, with societies, with the duties 
of the present, and the hopes of the future ; when the 
city throngs with strangers, and the moments that 
are not given to exciting occupations and wearying 
business are absorbed by the duties of hospitality, 
the claims of old friendships, and the pleasures of 
society. My brother entered with keen enjoyment 
into all the various interests of the week. He was an 
efficient member, or an acting officer, of nearly all 
the societies of the time, — less numerous, indeed, 
than at present, but still enough to absorb all his 
leisure, — and he was engaged to preach the sermon 
before the Society for the Promotion of Christian 
Knowledge, Piety, and Charity, on May 26th. The 



election sermon was on Wednesday, and the Conven- 
tion, in which he took the warmest interest, was on 
the Thursday following. His ever-watchful sister 
observed, that, while writing the sermon for the 
above-mentioned society, he was oppressed by an un- 
usual languor, and the sermon, although selected for 
publication, bears evidence of it. An extract from a 
letter of this date shows how the labors of the week 
had crowded upon him. 

' Joseph sat up nearly all night, writing his sermon to 
preach before the society. He has been so engaged with 
various societies, and with company staying in the house, 
that he has had no time. After all, the gentlemen called 
for him when he was writing the last page. He went off 
without his gown. In his hurry, he forgot to put it on. I 
did not perceive it for some time, and then sent it after him, 
which made me too late,' etc. 

This forgetting the gown was no proof that his 
memory was failing ; but, it not being the Sabbath, 
he did not think of the usual costume of the pulpit. 

Thus he went on, — no pause, no rest, — in the 
exercise of a benevolence never surpassed, an ardor 
for the good of others rarely equalled. There was 
no voice to warn, — there was no hand to hold him 
back. Others were engaged w4th him ; but he, with 
his thrilling voice, his ardent eye, and his intrepid 
and buoyant spirit, urged them on. Some few looked 
on with trembling interest, knowing the fatal conse- 
quences of over-exerting the sensitive brain ; but he 
had survived many such periods of severe labor, and 
why might he not pass uninjured through this one ? 

The ruin came all at once, with instantaneous shock. 
His early prayer was answered. There was no inter- 



val between his active career and his shattered frame. 
At once, as though stricken on sunken rocks, in the 
calm, blue sea, and amidst the cloudless heaven, his 
noble intellect became a wreck. The silver cord 
endured no loosening from its hold, — it snapped 
asunder, and was gone ! 

It should certainly be cause of deep gratitude that 
he was cut down at once, without the slow decay, 
without the loss of one of those brilliant and fasci- 
nating qualities that so won the love of his con- 
temporaries. That he did not live to become the 
sepulchre of his dead intellect, demands the devout 
gratitude of all who knew him. 

From the records of an interleaved register, I am 
able to give some account of the employment of the 
few days before the attack of his last, fatal illness. 
On the 26th of May, he preached the sermon already 
mentioned, and attended a funeral in the afternoon. 
On the 2?th, election day, the funerals of two chil- 
dren are recorded. On the evening of the 28th, after 
attending the convention of ministers, he performed 
the ceremony of marriage for two couples, apparently 
at his own house. On Sunday, he repeated, in his 
own pulpit, with alterations, the sermon prepared for 
the society already mentioned, dividing it into two 
sermons, for morning and afternoon. In the even- 
ing, he received the usual visiters in his study. On 
Monday afternoon, he met with the association of 
ministers; and we may easily suppose it was a day 
of more than his usual exhaustion and lassitude, after 
the labors of the week and of the Sabbath. On 
Tuesday evening, June 2d, he met the committee of 
the parish on parish business, and afterwards attended, 
and took part, as was always a delight to him, with 


his musical society. On Wednesday, he had so vio- 
lent an access of his disorder as completely to pros- 
trate his physical powers, and to deprive him of his 
reason, which returned only at momentary intervals 
during the seven days that the struggle between life 
and death continued. On Tuesday, June 9th, he 
expired, with a serene and blissful expression of coun- 
tenance, that seemed already to foreshadow the higher 
world for which the departing spirit was winged. 

During the whole of his short illness, his bed was 
surrounded, and the apartments of the house thronged, 
with anxious friends, lingering, with fond regret, over 
the insensible form from which genius, but not beauty, 
had departed; listening, with breathless attention, to 
catch the inarticulate sounds, in which the more ex- 
perienced ear of the physician detected the words of 
prayer. Friends and strangers, the merchants, as they 
met on 'change, and all, as they paused from their 
daily toil, whispered to each other words of hope or 
fear ; and a public and fearful calamity seemed to 
hang over the town. 

It is delightful to recollect that the last rational 
exercise of his mind, the last conscious act of bis life, 
was joining in the devotional music of the choir of 
his church. It was no doubt the very moment in 
which he would wish to die, as he has said, in one 
of his earliest letters, ' in the swelling notes of celes- 
tial praise, he could wish to dissolve into sound.' 
In the music in which he delighted, it seemed, 
indeed, as though departed spirits came to announce 
and to bear testimony to a future union. The close 
of his life, so in unison with its whole aim, has 
added a sweetness to his memory that embalms it for 






iOIO As we draw towards the close of the life 

of my father, I would fain record that the 
cheerfulness and apparent health which he enjoyed in 
1808, and the three succeeding years, had suffered no 
interruption. He had been, through life, a man of 
much domestic grief. The sensibility of his heart 
had been often wrung by the loss of children at the 
age when they are the most lovely and attractive, — 
when the opening faculties awaken the most tender 
interest in the parent, and the sorrow occasioned by 
their loss is as acute, though not perhaps as enduring, 
as when they die at a later age. At the loss of his 
second wife, in JS05, whom he loved with a passion 
fond almost to idolatry, those who witnessed the 
agony, of his grief trembled, lest his reason or his life 
should become the sacrifice to an attachment to 
which the energy of his soul and the sensibility of 
his heart were wholly given. 

In 1808, and in the three succeeding years, he had 


recovered from the desolating effect of this and other 
losses. His daughter remarks, in a letter found in 
the preceding pages, that she had never known him 
in better health and spirits. His daughters were 
now old enough to be to their father, not only do- 
mestic assistants, but companions and friends ; and 
the more youthful society that was drawn to the par- 
sonage, by finding companions of their own age 
there, was a great accession of pleasure and of cheer- 
ful conversation to Dr. Buckminster himself. My 
brother, also, when he came from Boston to visit his 
family, was usually accompanied by one of his young 
friends, which added much to the cheerfulness of the 
party assembled in what was called, par eminence, 
1 the little parlor.' 

In the summer of 1808, he allowed himself the 
recreation of a journey to the beloved scenes of his 
youth. As he travelled with his own horse and 
chaise, and a daughter for a companion, it was a 
journey of formidable length. He visited New Haven, 
at the season of Commencement, and enjoyed, for the 
last time, the renewal of old associations, and the 
delightful reminiscences of college days. It was 
true that younger classes had risen up ' which knew 
not Joseph,' yet it was a singular and fortunate cir- 
cumstance, that a large number of the class of 1770 
had, like him, gone up to visit their Alma Mater, 
and others of the classes to whom he had been tutor, 
so that the renewal of old associations was as com- 
plete and delightful as possible. 

In 1809, he was twice invited to preach occasional 
sermons, — at the ordination of Rev. Mr. Thurston, 
at Manchester, N. H., and before the Female Charita- 


ble Society of Newburyport. Both of the sermons 
were requested for the press, and they are among the 
most vigorous and interesting of his productions. 

It was a peculiar cause of anxiety to my father 
that the solitary situation of his son, (obliged to 
make the parsonage-house his residence,) and his 
singular liability to illness, compelled the necessity of 
dividing his family, and the sacrifice of the society 
of his eldest daughter. The second was, unfortu- 
nately, at that time, too much of an invalid to be 
much from under the parental roof, and the others 
were all too young to leave home, except under the 
care of the elder sisters. But, as their brother's house 
was a pleasant residence, and Boston presented so 
much rarer advantages of education for the younger 
children, one or two were constantly with their 
brother, and away from home. To a man so tender 
in his domestic affections, these blanks in the family 
circle were peculiarly painful. 

At the time of which I speak, my father's ap- 
pearance was that of a person in the full vigor of 
life. In 1808, he was fifty-seven years old. His 
remarkably striking form was unbent and unworn. 
The raven black of his hair was just beginning to be 
streaked with gray, and the temples were fringed 
with silver. He was often, at this period of his life, 
while he was a widower, solicited to join social parties, 
where his daughters were invited, and his presence, 
while it checked all undue mirth, was thought to add 
much to the cheerfulness of the party. But the 
young were not those with whom he could the most 
readily find sympathy, and, while his house was filled 
with them, he often, no doubt, felt doubly alone. 


His salary had never been more than a very mod- 
erate support for his large family; money, however, 
for any purposes but those of beneficence, and for the 
education of his children, had little value in his eyes. 
The absence of all world liness is perhaps a defect, 
for children should be taught the value of money 
sufficiently to desire to avoid the absolute want of it. 
After his marriage, in the summer of 1810, he left 
the parsonage-house and removed to a more commo- 
dious dwelling, the property of his wife. His mar- 
riage placed him beyond all anxiety with regard to 
pecuniary concerns. It is due to his delicate sense 
of justice to state, that the property which came into 
his possession by his last marriage was returned im- 
mediately by bequest. His will, executed the day 
after the solemnization of his marriage; is in these 
words : — 

4 Secondly. To my beloved wife Abigail, I return, by 
bequest, all that estate, real and personal, or mixed, of 
which she was possessed (when she became my wife) by 
the will of her late husband, Colonel Eliphalet Ladd; to be 
not only for her use during her life, but to be at her dis- 
posal, and to her heirs and assigns for ever, as completely 
as if no connection had taken place between us ; and as to 
the little property which I possess, separate from that which 
fell into my hands through her courtesy and confidence, it is 
my will, that my said beloved wife should have the income 
of it during her continuing my widow, if she chooses to 
retain it.' 

He had now enjoyed uninterrupted health and 
spirits for more than four years. He seemed to have 
taken a new lease of life, and his friends saw no rea- 
son why he might not attain to the age of the most 


long-lived of his ancestors; but, as was mentioned 
in the last chapter, at the close of the year IS 11, 
those of his family who were most intimate with the 
peculiarities of his constitution, saw, with anguish, 
that a nameless depression, an apparently causeless 
anxiety, was beginning to gather in dark clouds over 
his mind. Physical disease, which baffled the sa- 
gacity of science, no doubt affected him ; but it 
assumed the outward form of mental depression, ner- 
vous distress, and agitation. In May, 1812, he be- 
came much more ill, and change of scene amid the 
healthful influences of nature was proposed, and a 
journey to the western part of New York was re- 
solved upon, which was to begin early in June. 

At this time his illness did not take the usual form 
of morbid and exaggerated conscientiousness ; it was 
a general distrust of himself, his power of sustaining 
his ministry, and a fear lest he should be the cause 
of unhappiness to others. He continued to perform 
the public services of his church on the Sabbath, and 
to receive his friends, and those who were unac- 
quainted with his malady perceived no cause for 

The last Sabbath in May, he felt a strong persua- 
sion that he should never again address his people. 
As his journey was to be commenced on Tuesday, 
and the Sabbath was the last day of the month, the 
communion was celebrated on that day, that he might 
enjoy once more with his beloved church that last 
act of affection and devotion to his Divine Master. 
His services were unusually fervent and pathetic, and 
he seemed to feel a prophetic foreboding that it was 
the last time his voice would ever be heard from that 



table of his Lord. He did not go out in the after- 
noon, and the succeeding night was one of distress 
and agitation. His daughter and his friend, Rev. 
Mr. Parker, watched with him through the night. It 
was spent by him in fervent prayers, interrupted at 
intervals by bursts of uncontrollable emotion. It was 
the night preceding the first of June, and the unusual 
warmth of the season allowed all the windows to be 
open. The garden beneath the windows, hushed in 
the sweet repose of moonlight, was all white with 
the full blossom of fruit trees, whose fragrance as- 
cended upon the night-breeze to the watchers by that 
beloved but afflicted spirit. How striking was the 
contrast between the joyful repose of nature and the 
jarring discords of the human soul ; but never, during 
any of the wild conflicts of emotion, did he lose for 
a moment the gentle sweetness of his manners, or a 
tender devotion to the comfort of others. 

Arrangements had been made for his departure on 
a journey the next morning as far as the Saratoga 
Springs ; and, upon his return, he would visit his son 
and daughter in Boston. He was to be accompanied 
by his wife and a gentleman of middle age, who was 
a member of his church, also by a young man, at that 
time a student of divinity. His young friend, the 
Rev. Mr. Parker, had so endeared himself to Dr. 
Buckminster by the warmth of his sympathy, that 
the sufferer could not bear to part with him ; and the 
latter was persuaded to accompany him a part of the 
way on his journey. The prayer that he offered in 
his family the morning of his departure was so touch- 
ing in its pathetic earnestness, that it melted his young 
children to tears. Observing them weeping, he said, 


with the most cheerful smile, as he stepped into the 
carriage, 'Be not anxious, — all will be well!' It 
was an inexpressible consolation to them, thus or- 
phaned in their youth, to remember that the last 
kind words that fell from his lips were those of en- 
couragement and peace. 

The following notices of the remaining days of 
my father's life are derived from the journal sent 
to his family by the young student who accom- 
panied him on his journey. The party left Ports- 
mouth on the first or second day of June. The 
season was more enchanting than can be imagined ; 
the air was loaded with the fragrance of blossoming 
trees ; the tender grass was of an emerald green ; the 
temperature balmy as the air of Paradise ; and a spirit 
of beauty seemed to move over the earth to cure all 
sadness but despair. 

' June 2d. After proceeding a short distance, the con- 
versation turned upon the goodness of God, as displayed 
in the beauty of nature. Mr. Parker observed, that 
" all nature appeared to smile in praise of the Creator." 
" Yes," replied Dr. Buckminster, and tears filled his eyes, 
" we are travelling amidst the loveliest works of God." 
Mr. Parker said it was a wise and benevolent dispensation 
of Heaven, that the acceptableness of our actions did not 
depend on a high excitation of the affections and feelings ; 
but a course of devout action might be continued when the 
ardor of feeling that prompted it had subsided ; for such 
was the limitation of our nature, that we could neither long 
endure keen elevation nor always possess uniform cheerful 
assurance ; and if the ardor of feeling were requisite to the 
right performance of actions, we should not be able, when 
it was in exercise, to do properly the business of life. But, 


as we are constituted, having begun a series of good actions 
from right principle, we may continue them from habit, 
after the vividness of emotion has subsided. Dr. Buck- 
minster smiled ; " I think," he said, " that you have given 
us a true and philosophical statement of the subject." 

1 In the afternoon, the conversation turned upon the Hop- 
kinsian system. The Dr. asked me if I had read a certain 
treatise upon the points of difference between Hopkins and 
Calvin, adding, that he had lately been reading it. Upon 
my observing that the difference between Hopkinsians and 
rigid Calvinists appeared to be merely nominal, he replied, 
— "There is a difference. The former hold, that, if it 
were for the glory of God, a soul must be willing to be 
eternally miserable ; which implies, that the believer must 
be willing to be in a state that would for ever deprive him 
of the presence of God, and where his name was blas- 
phemed. Hopkinsians also ascribe the origin of evil to 
God, — an assertion that Calvinists reject." 

1 The next day, speaking of the origin of writing, I 
observed that the law of the ten commandments was said 
to be written by the finger of God. The Dr. answered, 
that " this, like many other passages of the Scriptures, 
must be taken figuratively ; they were probably written by 

' His friend, Mr. Parker, quitted the party at Newbury- 
port to return to Portsmouth. In attempting to give him a 
message for his children, Dr. Buck minster's emotion was so 
great that he desisted from the attempt. After Mr. Parker 
left him, his dejection increased, and his mind seemed 
clouded with a settled gloom. Passing through Chelmsford, 
he saw some children at play by the school-house, and 
burst into involuntary tears. Upon inquiring the cause of 
this sudden expression of sensibility, he said, " they brought 
to his mind his own children, the sorrow they were destined 
to suffer, and their inability, from their youth and retired 
education, to contend with the difficulties of life." After 


his emotion had subsided, he conversed upon the scenes of 
his early life, of his collegiate pursuits, and the advantages 
of the exact sciences in strengthening the mind, and induc- 
ing habits of correct reasoning.' 

At Newburyport he had met his brother and sister, 
Mr. and Mrs. Tappan, returning from Boston. He 
expressed to his sister, more fully than he had to his 
children, his entire conviction that the journey would 
be of no avail ; he had undertaken it at the desire of 
friends, and would go on, but he felt a firm persua- 
sion in his own mind that he never should return to 

In that distressing night previous to his leaving 
home, the physician had thought proper to take a 
quantity of blood from the arm. On the fourth day 
of the journey, the wounded vein began to inflame, 
and the whole arm, probably irritated by travelling, 
swelled, and became extremely painful. 

4 June 5th. At Townsend, the patient walked some 
distance to observe a lovely and picturesque view. The 
sun was just setting, and the whole air was perfumed with 
blossoms. He was so much exhilarated with this walk, 
that he forgot the fatigues of the ride, and the evening 
was spent cheerfully. The ride from Townsend to Keene, 
through an undulating and pleasing country, exhilarated his 
spirits, and, notwithstanding the painful state of his arm, he 
enjoyed every incident of the journey. At Jaffrey, this 
day, June 5th, he wrote the last letter he ever penned to his 
children. [In consequence of the state of his arm, the 
writing is almost illegible.] 

' June 6th. At Keene, the Dr, entered into an animated 
political discussion with a Democrat, who asserted that 
Judge Marshall had, in a certain case, exercised powers 



that were unconstitutional. The Dr. confined himself to a 
defence of Judge Marshall, and vindicated the powers of 
the judiciary, as the great bulwark of the Constitution, with 
great energy, power, and perspicuity of thought. At Wal- 
pole, where we dined, he met one who had been his pupil 
when he was tutor at Yale College. This meeting agitated 
him greatly, and his nervous spasms returned with violence. 

' His arm was now swelled to an alarming degree ; he 
could no longer ascend nor descend the steps of the 
carriage without assistance. The ride, however, from 
Walpole to Putney, exhilarated his spirits, and he said, in 
reference to the varying and undulating character of the 
ground, with the shadows flitting over it, that it bore a 
striking resemblance to the light and shade, the changing 
color, of our life. At Putney, there was a Justice's cause 
being argued at the inn where we rested, in which Dr. 
Buckminster took a strong interest, and attended to the 
close of the sitting. 

' June 1th. The next day being the Sabbath, it was 
spent in the beautiful little village of Putney. Our beloved 
patient was calm, but extremely dejected. He was able, 
however, to read the Scriptures, and pray in the family ; 
after which, the rest of the party attended church. In the 
afternoon, one of the party stating some objections to some 
passages of Scripture, he smiled, and observed, mildly, that 
" the gentleman was inclining to Socinianism." During 
the night, he w r as extremely ill, and his arm so much 
swelled that he could not move it without assistance. 

' On Monday, June 8th, tw r o physicians were called in at 
Brattleborough, but they prescribed only for the swelled 
arm. Notwithstanding the illness of their patient, the party 
proceeded that day to Whitney's, in Marlborough. Here, 
while his wife took some repose, he sat by the window with 
a book in his hand ; he spent the afternoon in this position, 
in prayer, and repeating parts of the Psalms. Before he 
retired, he requested one of the party to pray, with as much 
humility and resignation as possible.' 


Since the night at Putney, my father seems to 
have been aware of his approaching dissolution, 
although, from the fear of distressing his wife and 
retarding the journey of his friends, he consented to 
go on, without expressing his own convictions of his 
extreme illness. His nights were usually without 
sleep, and spent in prayer. 

1 Tuesday, June 9th. We left Whitney's, and rode to 
Hamilton's tavern to breakfast. Here our patient immedi- 
ately lay down with extreme pain in the shoulder and 
breast ; afterwards, we continued the journey to Berchard's 
inn, to dine. Here a young lady, the daughter of the host, 
was wholly devoted to his comfort. Grateful for every 
kindness, he took leave of her with a tenderness and 
solemnity that affected every one. This afternoon, we 
observed a striking change in his appearance ; although he 
continued to manifest the sweetest composure and an 
angelic patience, and not a complaint escaped him, yet his 
countenance was pale and sunken. He spoke little, but 
smiled frequently. He seemed to speak with effort, and 
the natural tone of his voice was gone. 

1 In the afternoon, we passed a little road-side cottage, 
where we stopped a moment, and asked for a glass of water 
from a woman, who sat by the loom, weaving. She was 
one of those tender and feeling natures, that are habitually 
prompted to deeds of mercy and kindness by their own 
hearts. Observing the pale and suffering countenance 
within the carriage, as soon as it had passed she felt 
constrained to follow it. She felt there was death in the 
carriage, and she could not pursue her labors at the loom. 
Leaving her work, she followed on to the lonely and 
sequestered inn, where the travellers had stopped for the 
nio-ht, and, by her presence of mind, her disinterested 
services, her calm and trusting piety, she proved an infinite 


comfort to the afflicted wife of the suffering patient. In 
this lonely inn, we were visited by a tremendous storm. 
During this conflict of the elements, Dr. Buckminster was 
extremely agitated. He sat supported in a chair, his voice 
feeble and hollow, and uttered with touching pathos prayers 
for his friends and himself, humble confessions and peti- 
tions for the mercy of God. From this time his gloom 
wholly subsided. He was perfectly aware that his death 
was near. He remained perfectly tranquil, most of the 
time silent, but uttering occasionally whispered expressions 
of submission, faith, and hope in the mercy of God.' 

[Some hours later, on the same evening, a thunder- 
storm was felt with terrific violence in Boston. Pros- 
trate with fever of the brain, in the fierce contention 
of life with death, lay the beloved son upon a couch 
opposite the windows, where the vivid flashes of light- 
ning illuminated the whole room, and the sunken and 
pallid countenance, around which, in still, repressed 
agony, the friends were gathered. For many hours, 
no ray of reason had illumined those closed eyes ; but 
now, when one of his sisters arrived from Ports- 
mouth, he opened his eyes, looked upon her, and 
smiled : this smile, always so enchanting, was given 
to her as a treasure for the memory of after life. 

The thunder-storm passed away, the clouds rolled 
off, and the tranquil stars looked down into that 
chamber. There, too, the anguish and the agony 
had passed away, and that pale countenance lay in 
the inexpressibly sweet repose of death.] 

The night of the storm was passed by the little 
afflicted company of travellers, with their dying 
friend, in the retired and solitary inn of the village 
of Reedsborough. He knew that he was dying, but 


his companions were not aware of his extreme illness, 
for the physician, who dwelt at the distance of nine 
miles, was not sent for that evening. Indeed, they 
all retired to rest, and Mrs. Buckminster, having been 
much fatigued and deprived of sleep, was persuaded 
by her husband to retire for the night to another 
room. Mr. Bowles, the eldest of the gentlemen, was 
accommodated with a bed in the same room with 
their patient. The night was spent by him in prayer, 
but, with his habitual regard to the feelings of others, 
he repeatedly said to Mr. Bowles, that he hoped he 
did not speak so loud as to disturb his repose. The 
gentleman, who had been in early life a sea-captain, 
at length answered, that 'he could remain undis- 
turbed through the roughest weather, and had often 
slept under his preaching; but ah, Sir,' he added, 'I 
cannot sleep under such prayers as these ! ' 

When his wife entered his chamber the next morn- 
ing, he said to her, with perfect composure, l My son 
Joseph is dead.' Mrs. Buckminster, supposing that 
he had slept and dreamed that his son was dead, 
although no news of his illness had reached him, 
assured him that it was a dream. ' No,' he replied, 
1 1 have not slept nor dreamed ; he is dead ! ' This 
incident is related as received from the lips of her to 
whom the words were spoken, and there can be no 
shadow of doubt of their truth.* 

* Edward Everett, in a poem delivered at the succeeding Com- 
mencement at Cambridge, thus beautifully refers to this circum- 
stance : — 

' Farewell, thou blest ! too dark thy lot appears, 
Yet faith looks up, tho' sight is dim with tears. 
Serve thine own Master through the eternal hours 
In nearer presence and with nobler powers. 


Although Dr. Buckminster proposed to rise and 
proceed to Bsnnington, the smallest effort to move 
produced faintness, and his wife, now much alarmed, 
sent immediately for the nearest physician. He dwelt 
at the distance of nine miles, and did not arrive till 
ten o'clock. 

In the mean time, although his countenance bore 
all the appearance of death, it was serene and tran- 
quil. All nervous distress and all anxiety had passed 
away, and, in those last hours of his life, he enjoyed 
the full assurance of the goodness and loving-kindness 
of his Saviour. But there was no exultation, no rap- 
turous expressions of the near approach of heaven. 
His principal anxiety was to soothe and comfort his 
wife, who had now become fearfully conscious that 
his last moment was approaching. 

The following paragraph is from the journal of his 
young travelling companion : — 

4 The physician, who had been sent for previously, now 
entered the room. Before his arrival, Dr. Buckminster's 
symptoms had become extremely alarming, and his friends 
perceived with anguish that his death was fast approaching. 
He fixed his languid eyes upon the physician, and said, 
with some earnestness, " I am in the hands of God ; all 
means are under his control, and must depend on his bless- 
ing. I have no expectation that any thing can be done for 
me, but, for the sake of these friends, I will submit to your 

Go with thy Sire, for heaven, in judgment kind, 
The chain of filial fondness spared to unbind. 
Or was that chord of love so finely spun 
Which bound the secret souls of sire and son, 
That each, unconscious, owned the mutual blow, 
And nature felt what reason could not know ? ' 


prescriptions." The doctor proceeded to prepare some 
medicine, and said, " if it did not relieve him, the event 
would be fatal." " Certainly," said Dr. Buckminster, " that 
must follow." Upon a stranger entering the room, he 
asked, eagerly, if it was a messenger from Boston, expect- 
ing, no doubt, to hear his son's death confirmed. Some 
one present asked him if he were resigned. He answered, 
" I desire to be still, and await the will of God." After a 
short time, one of his companions asked, " if he had any 
thing to impart to his absent family." Waiting some 
moments, he attempted to speak, but, his voice failing, he 
fervently pressed the hand of the person, and, lifting his 
eyes, he seemed to be in silent prayer for many moments, 
when his eyes closed, and he gently breathed away his 
departing soul.' 

It was in less than twenty-four hours after the 
death of the son, that his father followed him to that 
eternal union which they both so fervently expected 
to enjoy. 

Dr. Buckminster was interred at Bennington, with 
appropriate funeral solemnities. The Rev. Mr. 
Marsh, of that place, preached, upon the occasion, 
from the words, l I will not leave you comfortless ; 
I will come unto you.' 

On Friday, the 19th of June, his bereaved church 
and congregation, in Portsmouth, assembled to pay a 
tribute of respect to his memory. The pulpit and 
the galleries were hung with black, and an impres- 
sive discourse was pronounced by Mr. Parker, of the 
South Church, from Acts xx. 24, — ' But none of 
these things move me,' &c. A writer of the time 
remarks, that ' the largest and most respectable 
audience that had ever been seen in that ancient 
town was present.' 


The stone that was placed over the grave of Dr. 
Buckminster, in Bennington, Vermont, bears the 
following inscription, written, except the poetry, by 
his friend and brother in the ministry, Rev. D. 
Dana, D. D., of Newburyport : — 

'In memory of Rev. Joseph Buckminster, D. D., pastor 
of a church in Portsmouth, N. H., who died suddenly in 
this vicinity, while on a journey for his health, June 10th, 
1812, aged 61. 

' He was a fervent and devoted Christian, an eloquent 
and evangelical preacher, a faithful and indefatigable pastor, 
an affectionate son, brother, husband, father, and friend. 
His bereaved people have erected this memorial of his emi- 
nent worth and of their tender and respectful grief. 

' O ever honored, ever dear, adieu ! 
How many tender names are lost in you ! 
Keep safe, tomb, thy precious, sacred trust, 
Till life divine awake this sleeping dust ! ' 

At the funeral service in Brattle Street Church, on 
the afternoon of June 12th, in commemoration of 
the death of their pastor, Rev. Joseph Stevens Buck- 
minster, Dr. Kirkland, President of Harvard College, 
preached from Job xvi. 19, — ' Thou destroyest the 
hope of man.' The sermon was a touching and 
appropriate tribute to the memory of his friend. Dr. 
Kirkland was earnestly requested to give a copy for 
the press, but the urgent duties of his office pre- 
vented him from complying with the wishes of the 
parish and the friends of the departed. Many 
tributes to his memory appeared in the public jour- 
nals of the day, and in the sermons of his brothers 
in the ministry. Among others were two very 


beautiful notices of his character, written with the 
warmth of friendship, and. the exact delineation of 
truth, which appeared in two successive numbers of 
the General Repository, from the pen of its editor, 
Mr. Andrews Norton. They have been included in 
the edition of Buckminster's Works of 1839, and 
would also have enriched the pages of this volume, 
had it not swelled far beyond its original intention. 

Twelve years after his death, the Rev. John 
Gorham Palfrey, then the pastor of Brattle Street 
Church, pronounced the following beautiful eulogy 
upon his memory. After speaking of former pastors 
of the church, he says, — 

; Him I have heard and known ; and who, that has heard 
him, has not thenceforth found religion invested in his mind 
with a beauty unknown before ? He was, in truth, a 
singularly gifted man ; of a judgment discriminating, inde- 
pendent, and exact ; of a fancy profuse of images of the 
grand and lovely ; of a various and accurate learning ; of 
a sensibility keenly alive to the importance of truth, and to 
the dangers and obligations of men ; of a pure and fervid 
zeal ; of a truly heavenly spirit. He was formed to 
interest men in religion, — to win them and attach them to 
it. No one could look on his intellectual beauty, — no one 
could hear the softest tone of his voice,— without loving 
the spirit that dwelt in the expression of both. He spoke 
to solemnize the levity of the young, and inform the wisdom 
of age ; to shake the sinner's purpose, and to bind up, in 
the softest balm of consolation, the wounds of the Christian 
heart. Those of us who have heard him, with a force and 
feeling all his own, plead the claims of our religion, 
describe its value, and disclose its hopes, may not expect, 
while we live, to witness any thing approaching nearer to 
what we imagine of a prophet's or an angel's inspiration. 



He was one of those who seem appointed to the high and 
needful office of conciliating to religion the minds of intel- 
lectual and tasteful men 

4 Nor in regard alone to the services directly rendered 
by him to religion was this lamented man a benefactor. 
His mind was one of those that leave a broad impress on 
the character of the times. The weight of his influence, 
and the more powerful attraction of his example, gave an 
impulse to the cause of good learning, of which we are 
daily witnessing more and more brilliant consequences. 
But these were not the cares the nearest to his heart. 
Though followed by an admiration too enthusiastic for a 
man of less singleness of mind to bear, without being led 
astray from his appropriate work, here was the scene of his 
favorite labors, and here he reaped the most desired reward. 

Every thing here reminds us of him At the table 

of Christian fellowship, I meet the disciples whom he led to 
that feast,* and his presence almost seems to be with us 
there. Already I find encouragement and friendship in 
those whose earliest remembered impressions of religion 
are associated with the pathos of his melting tones, the 
glory of his speaking eye. I stand by death-beds, cheered 
by happy hopes of immortality which he taught to glow, 
and witness the Christian patience of mourners, to whom 
he was the minister of that lasting peace which the world 
cannot give nor take away. Happy servant of his God, 
who can leave such enduring memorials of so short a life ! 
who, long after the first burst of general distress at his 
early departure has been hushed, survives in the virtuous 
purposes of manhood, and the calm meditation of age ! 
Happy, whose epitaph is recorded in the religious dedica- 
tion of so many grateful hearts ! There is no other dis- 
tinction but is mean compared with such a glory ! . . . . 
And when, at last, he meets them above, can any thing be 

* See Appendix No. V. 


wanting to the worth of his crown of rejoicing, when they 
remember, together, that it was by his agency that God 
made them associates for angels ? ' * 

With these beautiful words I close the memoir of 
my brother, trusting that his memory may yet 
survive to encourage and comfort many hearts. 

' One other name, with power endowed, 

To cheer and guide us onward as we press ; 
One other image on the heart bestowed, 
To dwell there, beautiful in holiness.' 

June 12, 1842, exactly thirty years from the day 
of his funeral, through the surviving affection of the 
Society of Brattle Street Church, his remains were 
removed from the tomb of Mr. Lyman, at Waltham, 
and placed beneath a chaste and beautiful monument 
of white marble, consecrated to his memory, in the 
cemetery of Mount Auburn. By the arrangement of 
the faithful memory of those who had witnessed 
the attachment of brother and sister, she who had 
watched over him in life was not divided from him 
in the sacred repose of one consecrated tomb. Their 
united memory is such 

' As hallows and makes pure all gentle hearts. 
His hope is treacherous only whose love dies 
With beauty, which is varying every hour ; 
But in chaste hearts, uninfluenced by the power 
Of outward change, there blooms a deathless flower, 
That breathes on earth the air of Paradise.' 

* From Rev. J. G. Palfrey's sermon, preached at the church in 
Brattle Square, July 18, 1824. 


NO. I. 

There is some uncertainty about the original family name. It 
appears from the records of deeds in the Suffolk office, and in the 
registry of wills in the Probate office, that the first and second 
generations after coming to this country wrote the name Buck- 
master. The Almanac and Prognosticate of Thomas Buckminster, 
of the year 1599, now in the possession of the writer, has descended 
in the family from the day of its author, and proves that in the year 
of its publication the name was written as it is at present. 

Joseph Stevens Buckminster, when in England, took the trouble 
to search into the antiquity of the family name, and found that a 
coat of arms, ' " Argent, seme des Jleurs de lis, a Lyon, rampant, 
sable," was confirmed by Sir Gilbert Dethick, Garter king-at-arms, 
the 24 March, 1578, in the 21st year of Queen Elizabeth, to William 
Buckminster, son and heir of Richard Buckminster, eldest son of 
John Buckminster of Peterborough, Northamptonshire, and to all 
the posterity of the said John Buckminster for ever.' — MSS. in 
Ashmole, No. 834, p. 20; Guillim's Heraldry, 6th ed., London, 
1724, p. 276. 

In the English records in Westminster, printed by the order of 
William IV., A. D. 1216, is the name of 'Adam Bukeminstr ' 
and ' Robertum filium suum.' It seems, therefore, that the name 
as it appears written in the Suffolk office is a corruption of the 
original name in England. 



No. n. 

Sermons Published by Dr. Buckminster . 

1. A Discourse delivered December 11th, 1783, the Day of 
the General Thanksgiving throughout the United States after the 
Ratification of the Treaty of Peace and Acknowledgment of their 
Independence. Published by request. 

2. A Discourse delivered November 1, 1789, when the President 
of the United States visited Portsmouth. 

3. A Sermon delivered February 27, 1794, at the Interment of 
Mrs. Porter of Rye. 

4. Two Discourses delivered February 28, 1796, upon the Duty 
of Republican Citizens in the Choice of their Rulers. ' Dulce et 
decorum est pro patria mori.' Published by request. 

5. A Discourse delivered at Hampton, March 2d, 1796, a Day 
devoted by the Congregational Church in that Place to Fasting 
and Prayer. Being Remarks upon the Dispute and Separation of 
Paul and Barnabas. Published by Desire of the Hearers. 

6. A Discourse delivered in Portsmouth, November 15, 1798, on 
Thanksgiving Day. Published by request. 

7. A Sermon delivered in Portsmouth on the Lord's Day after 
the Melancholy Tidings of the Death of George Washington, the 
Father, Guardian, and Ornament of his Country. December", 1799. 

8. Two Sermons delivered in the First Church in Portsmouth 
January 5th, 1800, the House being shrouded in Mourning in Token, 
of Respect to the Mamory of General Washington. 

9. A Sermon preached to the United Congregational Churches 
in Portsmouth, February 22d, 1800, the Day appointed by Congress 
to pay Respect to the Memory of Washington. Published by 

10. A Discourse delivered in Portsmouth, December 14, 1800, 
the Anniversary of the Death of General Washington. 'The 
memory of the just is blessed.' 

11. A Discourse occasioned by the Desolating Fire in Ports- 
mouth, December, 1803. Published by request. 

12. A Discourse preached before the Portsmouth Female Char- 
itable School, October 14, 1803. Published by request. 

13 A Discourse delivered at the Ordination of Rev. J. S. Buck- 
minster to the Pastoral Charge of the Church in Brattle Street, 
Boston, December 30, 1805. 


14. A Discourse delivered at the Interment of Rev. Samuel 
Haven, D. D., and of his Wife, Mrs. Margaret Haven, who sur- 
vived her Husband but thirty-six hours, March 3d, 1806. 'In 
their death they were not divided.' 

15. Domestic Happiness. A Sermon delivered in Portsmouth 
February 23, 1803. Published by request of the Young Men of 
the Parish. 

16. A Discourse on Baptism, 1803. ' Suffer little children and 
forbid them not to come to me ; for of such is the kingdom of 
heaven.' — Jesus Christ. 

17. A Discourse upon Christian Charity, being the Conclusion 
of the Sermon upon Baptism, 1803. 

18. A Sermon delivered at the Installation of Rev. James Milti- 
more to the Charge of the Fourth Church in Newbury, April 27, 

19. A Sermon delivered before the Female Charitable Society 
of Newburyport, May, 1809. Published at the request of the 

20. A Sermon preached at. the Installation of Rev. James Thurs- 
ton in Manchester, N. H., May, 1809. 

21. A Sermon delivered at the Interment of Rev. Moses Hem- 
menway, D. D., Pastor of the First Chuich of Christ in Wells, 
Maine, 1811. 

22. Substance of three Discources delivered in Park Street 
Church, Boston, August 11, 1811. 'I am not ashamed of the 
gospel of Christ.' — St. Paul. 

Beside the above-mentioned Sermons, Dr. Buckminster pub- 
lished a short memoir of Dr. Maclintock of Greenland, N. H. He 
was also one of the authors of the ' Piscataqua River Prayer Book 
for the Use of Families,' and a constant contributor to the pages 
of the ' Piscataqua Missionary Magazine.' 

No. III. 

Publications of Rev. Joseph Stevens Buckminster. 

During his life, he published only two sermons, viz : — 

1. A Discourse delivered December 18, 1808, 00 the Lord's 

Day after the Public Funeral of Hon. James Sullivan, Governor of 



2. A Discourse delivered at the Interment of Rev. William 
Emerson, May, 1811. 

A Discourse pronounced before the Society of Phi Beta Kappa 
at Cambridge, August 31, 1S09. Published in the Anthology. 

His contributions to periodical publications during his life were, 
as nearly as can be ascertained, as follows : — 

To the Literary Miscellany: — Review of Dr. Millar's Retro- 
spect of the Eighteenth Century, Vol. I., p. 82. Translation of 
an Idyl of Meleager, and of an Inscription to Somnus, Vol. I., pp. 
196, 197. 

To the Monthly Anthology and Review : — 

Review of the Salem Sallust, Vol. II. 549. 

Remarker, No. 5, on Criticism, Vol. III. 19. 

Review of Sherman on the Trinity, Vol. III. 249. 

Introduction to Retrospective Notices of American Literature, 
Vol. V. 54. 

Review of Logan's Version of Cato Major, Vol. V. 281, 340, 

Remarker, No. 34, on Gray's Poetry, Vol. V. 367. Defence of 
Gray, Vol. V. 484. 

Editor's Address to Vol. VI. 1. 

Description of the Fall of the Rossburg and destruction of Gol- 
dau, first published in the Anthology. 

Sketch of French Literature and Science, published as a ' Letter 
from Paris ' in the Anthology. 

Review of Thompson's Septuagint, Vol. VII. 396. Continued, 
Vol. VIII. 193. 

Review of Griesbach's New Testament, Vol. X. 107. Con- 
tinued, p. 403. Notices of, Vols. V. and VI. 

In the General Repository and Review : — 

On the Accuracy and Fidelity of Griesbach, Vol. I. 89. Con- 
tinued, 363. 

Translation of the Article PKEYMA in Schleusner's Lexicon, 
with Notes, Vol. I. 296. 

Review of Rev. W. Emerson's History of the First Church, 
Vol. I. 374, with the exception of the first paragraph, which was 
added by the editor, Mr. Andrews Norton. 

Mr. Buckminster published a Collection of Hymns ' for the Use 
of the Church in Brattle Street,' 1808. 


Well-beloved's Devotional Exercises for the Use of Young Per- 
sons, 1808. 

Zollikoffer's Sermons to Young Men. The last two at his own 

The first selection of his sermons, consisting of twenty-four, in 
large octavo, was published in 1814, with a memoir by Rev. S. C. 
Thacher. It passed through three editions. 

The second selection, consisting of twenty-two sermons, octavo, 
was published in 1829. 

In 1839, James Munroe & Co. published 'The Works of Joseph 
S. Buckminster, with Memoirs of his Life,' two volumes, duo- 
decimo. This edition includes Mr. Thacher's Memoir, and Notices 
of Mr Buckminster by Mr. Norton, Mr. Charles Eliot, and Rev. 
Mr. Colman. It also includes extracts from sermons first published 
in the ' Christian Disciple.' 

At the commencement of the publication of the ■ Christian Dis- 
ciple,' the manuscript sermons of Mr. Buckminster were placed 
in the hands of its editors. Extracts were made from forty-four 
sermons, which were published in the successive numbers of that 

No. IV. 

Joseph S. Buckminster's library was sold, by printed catalogue, 
at public auction, in August, 1812. Here are mentioned the editions 
of the Bible and Commentaries belonging to his library, with their 
cost in Europe : — 

Biblia Sacra Polyglotta Londinensia. Walton. Lond. 1657. 
And Lexicon Heptaglotton. Castell. Lond. 1669. [A fine copy, 
containing the famous dedication to Charles the Second, the very 
existence of which has been denied by bibliographers. See Gen. 
Repos., No. 2.] Price, $ 100. 

Biblia Hebraica. Cum variis lectionibus ex ingenti codicum 
copia a B. Kennicott & J. B. de Rossi collatorum. Doederlein & 
Meisner. Lipsiae. 1792. 4to. [Blue morocco. Largest and best 
paper.] $9. 

Biblia Hebraica. Ex edit. Athiae. 4to. [Imperfect. Inter- 
leaved, with some MS. notes.] 

Biblia Greeca. V. T. Graecum ex versione LXX. Interpr. juxta 



exemplar Vatieanum. Lond. excud. Rog. Daniel. 1653. [A large 
paper copy in 4to. of Daniel's Septuagint, containing the Apocrypha 
and New Testament. Very rare and precious.] $ 10. 

Biblia Graeca LXX. Interp. ed. J. E. Grabe. Ex codice Alex- 
andrine Oxon. 1707-9. 8 vols. 8vo. [The letter-press is 
exactly the same with that of the folio.] $ 20. 

Novum Testamentum Graecum J. J. Wetstenii. Amst. 1751. 
[Interleaved, in 4 vols folio. Russia backs and edges, and perfectly 
new. Cost in London, 1807, £9 Us. 6d. sterling.] $50. 

Nov. Test. Graec. Griesbachii. Ed. 2da. Lond. & Hal. Sax. 
Vol. I. 1796. II. 1806. Royal 8vo. Commonly called the Duke 
of Grafton's edition. 

Nov. Test. Graec. G. D. T. M. D. (a Gerhardo de Trajecto 
Mosae Doctore.) Editio altera. Amst. 1735. 8vo. [Commonly 
called Curcellseus's edition, though erroneously. It is in 8vo , and 
not in 12mo., as Dibdin (see p. Lxix.) and others assert.] 

Poli Synopsis Criticorum. Francofurti ad Mae num. 1694. 5 
vols. 4to. [Much more convenient than the common folio ed.] 

Grotii Opera Omn. Theologica. Amst. 1679. Do. Epistolae. 5 
vols. fol. [The first 3 vols, contain his commentary on the Old 
and New Testament. The 5th vol., containing his letters, may be 
sold separately.] $ 25. 

Clerici (i. e. Le Clerc's) Commentarius in V. T. 4 vols. fol. 

Clerici Harmonia Evang. 1 vol. fol. Amst. 1710. 

Clerici et Hammondiin N. T. Ed. 2da. Francof. 1714. 2 vols, 
fol. [In all, 9 vols, folio, new.] 

Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum. Irenop. 1656. 9 vols. fol. 
[This set contains the 9th vol., which is very rarely to be met with. 
See Bp. Watson's catalogue of books in divinity for this and many 
of the large theological works here offered for sale.] $ 50. 

Houbigantii Notae Criticae cum ejusdem Prolegomenis juxta ex- 
emplar Parisiense denuo recusae. Francof. ad Maen. 1777. 2 vols. 
4to. [This work will supply the place of Houbigant's splendid 

Kennicotti Dissertatio Generalis in V. T. fol. bds. Oxon. 
1780. $3. 

Trommii Concordantiae Graecae Versionis. Amst. 1718, 2 vols 
folio. [Fine copy, uncut.] $ 15. 


Schmidii Tameion al. Concordantiae Nov. Test. Gra?c. AVitN- 
berg. 1638. folio. $10. 

Robertson Thesaurus, — si v e Concordantiale Lexicon ilchraeo- 
Latinum Biblicum. Lond. 1080. 4to. 

Arnald's Critical Commentary on the Apocrypha] Books, being 
a Continuation of Patrick and Lowth. Lond. 1744-52. folio. 

Pocock's Theological Works, edited by Leon. Twells. Loud. 
1740. 2 vols. Containing his Porta Moris and Commentary on 
Hosea, Joel, Micah, and Malachi. 

Toinardi Harmonia Evangeliorum Gra^co Latina. Parisiis. 
1707. fol. [For the value of this work, see Marsh's Michaelia, 
Vol. TIL, Pt. II., p. 41] 

Whitby's Paraphrase and Commentary on the New Testament. 
Fifth ed. Lond. 1727. 2 vols. fol. $ 15. 

Beausobre et L'Enfant Nouveau Testament. Nouvelle ed. cor- 
rige par les Auteurs. Amst. 1741. 2 vols. 4to. [This is the 
ed. opt. of this most excellent work.] $ 12. 

The New Test., Greek and English. London: Printed for J. 
Roberts. 1729. 2 vols. 8vo. [Large paper, very rare. Editor and 
translator unknown ; supposed to be Dr. Mace or Macey. See 
Dibdin, Introd., p. lxv.] $6. 

Wakefield's Translation of the New Testament. 2d ed. Lond. 
1795. 2 vols, royal 8vo. Large paper. $9. 

Nov. Test. Gr. Nova versione Latina illustrata auctore II. A. 
Schott. Lips. 1805. 8vo. Bound in 2 vols. Russia. [Text 
Griesbach's, with the most important various readings under it, 
and various renderings under the Latin version ; ' in usum Gym- 
nasiorum et Academiarum editum .'] $6. 

La Sainte Bible. Expliquee par des Notes de Thcologie et de 
Critique sur la Version ordinaire des Eglises Reformees, revue sur 
les Origineaux, &c, par David Martin. Amst. 1707. 2 vols. fol. 


La Sainte Bible, ou V. et N. T., traduites par les Pasteurs et 
les Professeurs de Geneve. A Geneve. 1805. Last edition, cor- 
rected. 3 vols. 8vo. $750. 



No. V. 

During Mr. Buckminster's ministry of seven years and four 
months, two hundred and fifty-nine were baptized (one of them 
eighty-three years old), and eighty-eight persons were added to 
the church in Brattle Street. 

No. VI. 

The engraving prefixed to this volume of Dr. Buckminster is 
the only portrait ever taken* of him. Tt was painted at about the 
age of thirty-eight years. The general outline of the face and 
figure are correct ; but the face, at least to those who were inti- 
mately acquainted with him, is extremely deficient in the elevated, 
intellectual, and harmonious expression which belonged to the